Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (/ˈtʃæŋɡɪraɪ/, Shona: [ts͎aŋɡira.i];[need tone] born 10 March 1952) is a Zimbabwean politician who was Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2013. He is President of the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and a key figure in the opposition to President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai was the MDC candidate in the controversial 2002 presidential election, losing to Mugabe. He later contested the first round of the 2008 presidential election as the MDC-T candidate, taking 47.8% of the vote according to official results, placing him ahead of Mugabe, who received 43.2%. Tsvangirai claimed to have won a majority and said that the results could have been altered in the month between the election and the reporting of official results. Tsvangirai initially planned to run in the second round against Mugabe, but withdrew shortly before it was held, arguing that the election would not be free and fair due to widespread violence and intimidation by government supporters that led to the deaths of 200 people.
He sustained non-life-threatening injuries in a car crash on 6 March 2009 when heading towards his rural home in Buhera. His first wife, Susan Tsvangirai, was killed in the head-on collision.
Early life and family
Morgan R. Tsvangirai was born in the Buhera area in then Southern Rhodesia, to Karanga parentage through his father Dzingirai-Chibwe Tsvangirai and mother Lydia Tsvangirai (née Lydia Zvaipa). He is the eldest of nine children, and the son of a communal farmer, mine worker, carpenter and bricklayer. He did his primary education at St. Marks Goneso Primary School Hwedza, and transferred by his father to Chikara Primary School Gutu then he went to Silveira. He did his secondary education at Gokomere High School. After leaving school with 8 Ordinary levels, in April 1972 he landed his first job as a trainee weaver for Elastics & Tapes textile factory in Mutare. In 1974 an old school mate from Silveira encouraged Morgan to apply for an advertised job as an apprentice for Anglo America's Bindura's Nickel Mine in Mashonaland Central. He spent ten years at the mine, rising from plant operator to plant supervisor. His current rural home is Buhera, which is 220 km south east of Harare.
Tsvangirai married his first wife, Susan, in 1978. The couple had six children during their 31-year marriage, which ended with her death in the 2009 car crash. In 2011 Locardia Karimatsenga (born 1970) claimed that Tsvangirai married her in a customary ceremony in 2010. She had been seeking maintenance payments of £10,000 a month to keep up the lifestyle to which, she said in court papers, she had become accustomed. A year later, his love life made headlines again after a 23-year-old woman bore him a child and he refused to support the baby until she threatened to take him to court. He married his second wife, Elizabeth Macheka (born 1976) mother of three, on 15 September 2012.
At independence in 1980 Morgan Tsvangirai, who was then aged 28, joined the then popular and victorious ZANU-PF party led by the man who was later to become his biggest political rival, Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai is reported to have been an ardent Mugabe supporter and to have risen "swiftly in the hierarchy", eventually becoming one of the party's senior officials. He is also known for his role in the Zimbabwean trade union movement, where he held the position of branch chairman of the Associated Mine Workers' Union and was later elected into the executive of the National Mine Workers' Union. In 1989 he became the Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the umbrella trade union organisation of Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai led the ZCTU away from the ruling ZANU-PF. As his power and that of the movement grew, his relationship with the Government deteriorated.
Criticism of Operation Gukurahundi
Three years after coming to power, Robert Mugabe ordered the Fifth Brigade, a military unit specially trained by North Korea, to a massacre in Matabeleland in co-operation with the Minister of Defence Enos Nkala, led by Air Marshal Perence Shiri because of suspicion of an alleged counter-revolution being planned by Joshua Nkomo. The operation was code named Gukurahundi. Tsvangirai has periodically toured the mass graves of the victims in Tsholotsho, Kezi, Lupane, Nkayi and other places in rural Matabeleland. Addressing villagers in Maphisa in 2001 he said:
This was a barbaric operation by ZANU-PF. It should never have happened. It was a sad episode in our history and the MDC will obviously want to see justice being done if it comes to power. Such human rights abuses should be revisited and those responsible will have to account for their actions.
National Constitutional Assembly
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), established in 1997, was chaired by a Moderator, and its day-to-day executive was run by a Task Force. Tsvangirai chaired the Task Force, as founding convener Tawanda Mutasah (succeeded by Bishop Nemapare) served as Moderator. Serving with Tsvangirai in the Task Force were activists that included Lovemore Madhuku, Welshman Ncube, Everjoice Win, Brian Kagoro, Tendai Biti and Priscilla Misihairabwi. The NCA gathered individual Zimbabwean citizens and civic organisations including labour movements, student and youth groups, women's groups, churches, business groups and human rights organisations. These individuals and groups formed the NCA to campaign for constitutional reform after realising that the political, social and economic problems affecting Zimbabwe were mainly a result of the defective Lancaster House constitution and could only be resolved through a new and democratic constitution. Tsvangirai stepped down after being elected president of the MDC.
The Solidar Silver Rose Award
In 2001 Morgan Tsvangirai was awarded the Solidar Silver Rose Award. The award was for outstanding achievement by an individual or organisation in the activities of civil society and in bringing about a fairer and more just society.
At a crucial period for world stability, the Solidar Silver Rose Award winners "show the positive change that can be brought about by determined individuals and organizations", the citation read.
Movement for Democratic Change
In 1999 Tsvangirai founded and organised the Movement for Democratic Change, an opposition party opposed to President Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF ruling party. He helped to defeat the February 2000 constitutional referendum, successfully campaigning against it along with the National Constitutional Assembly.
Tsvangirai lost the March 2002 presidential election to Mugabe. The election provoked widespread allegations[by whom?] that Mugabe had rigged the election through the use of violence, media bias, and manipulation of the voters' roll leading to abnormally high pro-Mugabe turnout in some areas.
Arrests and political intimidation
Tsvangirai was arrested after the 2000 elections and charged with treason; this charge was later dismissed. In 2004, Tsvangirai was acquitted of treason for an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe in the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections. George Bizos, a South African human rights lawyer who was part of the team that defended Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu in the famous South African Rivonia Trial in 1964, headed Morgan Tsvangirai's defence team.
October 2000 arrest
Tsvangirai was arrested after the government alleged that he had threatened President Robert Mugabe. The Movement for Democratic Change leader had told 40,000 supporters at a rally in Harare that if Mr Mugabe did not want to step down before the next elections scheduled for 2002 "we will remove you violently." However, Tsvangirai said that he was giving a warning to President Mugabe to consider history. "There is a long line of dictators who have refused to go peacefully – and the people have removed them violently," he said.
The courts dismissed the charges.
June 2003 arrest
In May 2003 Tsvangirai was arrested on a Friday afternoon shortly after giving a press conference, the government alleged he had incited violence. In the press conference he had said:
From Monday, 2 June, up to today, 6 June, Mugabe was not in charge of this country. He was busy marshaling his forces of repression against the sovereign will of the people of Zimbabwe. However, even in the context of the brutalities inflicted upon them, the people's spirit of resistance was not broken. The sound of gunfire will never silence their demand for change and freedom.
March 2007 arrest and beating
On 11 March 2007 a day after his 55th birthday, Tsvangirai was arrested on his way to a prayer rally in the Harare township of Highfield.
His wife was allowed to see him in prison, after which she reported that he had been heavily tortured by police, resulting in deep gashes on his head and a badly swollen eye. The event garnered an international outcry.
He was allegedly tortured by a Special Forces of Zimbabwe unit based at the army's Cranborne Barracks on 12 March 2007 after being arrested and held at Machipisa Police Station in the Highfield suburb of Harare.
Using sjamboks, army belts and gun butts, the soldiers attacked Tsvangirai until he passed out. One of the soldiers poured cold water all over Tsvangirai to resuscitate him. Tsvangirai regained consciousness again at around 1:30 am... One vicious woman was left to work on him. She removed an army belt from her waist and used it to assault Tsvangirai until he passed out again.
"He was in bad shape, he was swollen very badly. He was bandaged on the head. You couldn't distinguish between the head and the face and he could not see properly," Innocent Chagonda, an attorney, told Reuters after visiting a Harare police station where Tsvangirai was being held.
A Zimbabwean freelance cameraman, Edward Chikombo, smuggled television pictures of Morgan Tsvangirai's injuries following the beating.
Chikombo was later abducted from his home in the Glenview township outside Harare. His body was discovered the next weekend near the village of Darwendale, 50 miles (80 km) west of Harare.
There has been a pattern of abductions and punishment beatings where scores of opposition activists and their relatives have been attacked by government-sanctioned gangs using unmarked cars and police-issue weapons.
According to lawyer Tendai Biti, the Secretary-General of the MDC and an MP for Harare East, who was arrested along with Tsvangirai, Tsvangirai suffered a cracked skull and "must have passed out at least three times." Tsvangirai was subsequently admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a local hospital. Reports from BBC News indicate that Tsvangirai suffered from a fractured skull and received blood transfusions for internal bleeding. Although the incident was a clear case of political violence, Tsvangirai has since had very little political support from surrounding African countries.
Allegations of Wrongdoing
Allegations of Coup Plot
In 2003 Ari Ben-Menashe accused Tsavangirai of plotting to overthrow the Zimbabwean government in a coup d'état. After a treason trial Tsvangirai was acquitted of the charges.
2011 investigations over WikiLeaks disclosures
The Attorney General set up a team of lawyers to investigate whether Tsvangirai may be charged with conspiracy or treason after cables obtained by WikiLeaks were published.
Tsvangirai has been accused of allowing activists to attack opponents within his own party. In 2005 such allegations triggered the split in his party between his faction and the faction now led by Arthur Mutambara.
In February 2014 a senior party member claimed he was beaten and injured after calling for Tsvangirai to step down as party leader. An unnamed witness backed Elton Mangoma's allegation and added: "It is shocking that this actually took place... right in Tsvangirai's face and with him smiling."
Morgan Tsvangirai has said his party will investigate the allegation.
Meeting with John Howard
In August 2007, Tsvangirai met Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Melbourne, and after talks told the media that countries like Australia can play a very important role in the struggle against President Robert Mugabe's regime.
Tsvangirai meets Mbeki over Zimbabwe crisis
In September 2007, it was widely reported that Tsvangirai met Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa for crucial talks on how to speed up talks between the ruling ZANU PF and the Movement for Democratic Change party.
Tsvangirai meets Odinga over Zimbabwe crisis
In May 2008, Tsvangirai met Raila Odinga, the then Prime Minister of Kenya, who urged him to contest an election run-off against Mugabe.
Odinga and Tsvangirai were considered in tune in greed as they both resorted to demand 50-50 power sharing agreements in their respective countries making both of them Prime Ministers in their countries.
A presidential election and parliamentary election was held on 29 March 2008. The three major candidates were Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni, an independent.
The MDC photographed data at each polling station to collate for electoral results. The official results of the presidential election's first round were finally released on 2 May 2008 and hotly contested by the MDC representatives. According to the results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Tsvangirai won the first round, amassing 47.9% of the votes against 43.2% claimed by Mugabe. This meant that no candidate had the necessary 50% plus one vote to be declared the winner after the first round and a run-off would be needed. MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa called the announced results "scandalous daylight robbery." The MDC continued to assert that it won an outright victory in the first round with 50.3% of the votes.
Tsvangirai, who was outside of Zimbabwe, primarily in South Africa, for a significant period following the first round of the election, announced on 10 May that he would participate in a presidential run-off with Mugabe. Tsvangirai said that this second round should take place within the three-week period following the announcement of results that is specified by the Electoral Act. He made his participation conditional on "unfettered access of all international observers," the "reconstitution" of the Electoral Commission, and free access for the media, including the international press.
On 13 May 2008, Tsvangirai stated that he would be willing to compete in the run-off if at least Southern African Development Community election observers would be present, softening his previous demand for free access to all international observers. It was subsequently announced that the second round would be held on 27 June; the MDC denounced this delay.
Although Tsvangirai had been expected to return to Zimbabwe on 17 May, the MDC announced his return was delayed due to a claimed plot to assassinate him. The party claimed that military intelligence was in charge of the alleged plot, while the government dismissed the MDC's claims, saying that Tsvangirai was "playing to the international media gallery." Some observers suggested at this time that Tsvangirai's failure to return called into his question his leadership qualities and made it appear that he was afraid of Mugabe and unwilling to risk coming to harm despite the risks taken by his supporters remaining in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa on 24 May.
Tsvangirai gave what he described as a state of the nation address to the newly elected MDC MPs on 30 May. On this occasion, he said that Zimbabwe was in "a state of despair" and was "an unmitigated embarrassment to the African continent" due to its economic situation, and he also said that those engaging in political violence would receive no amnesty from his government. He also described the MDC as "the new ruling party" and said that the MDC's legislative programme would be "based on the return of fundamental freedoms to the people of Zimbabwe." A new "people-driven constitution" would follow within 18 months, according to Tsvangirai, and a "truth and justice commission" would be established; the army would "defend our borders, not attack our people," while the prisons would "hold only criminals, not innocent people." He pledged that the party would introduce a new strategy combining "demand and supply-side measures" to bring inflation under control. Tsvangirai also promised the revival of agriculture, saying that the issue would be "completely depoliticised" and that there would be measures to "compensate or reintegrate" farmers who lost their land as part of land reform.
The government has said that a victory for Tsvangirai would be disastrous and "destabilising."
Tsvangirai was detained near Lupane on 4 June, along with his security team and other top MDC officials, such as MDC Vice-President Thokozani Khupe and MDC chairman Lovemore Moyo. A lawyer for the MDC said that Tsvangirai was alleged to have addressed a rally near Lupane without permission. His vehicle was stopped by police at a roadblock and his motorcade was searched; after two hours, he was taken to a police station. The MDC described this as "part of a determined and well-orchestrated effort to derail our campaign programme," while the US government called the incident "deeply disturbing" and the German government demanded his release. Tsvangirai was released later that day after nine hours. Bvudzijena, the police spokesman, rejected any suggestion that the police were trying to interfere in Tsvangirai's campaign; he explained the detention by saying that the police had wanted to determine whether a vehicle in Tsvangirai's motorcade had valid registration. According to Bvudzijena, the police had wanted to take only the driver of this vehicle to the police station to review the relevant documents, but that Tsvangirai and the rest of his entourage insisted on coming as well.
On 22 June 2008, Tsvangirai announced at a press conference that he was withdrawing from the run-off, describing it as a "violent sham" and saying that his supporters risked being killed if they voted for him. He vowed that the MDC would ultimately prevail and that its victory could "only be delayed.". Shortly after making this announcement, Mr Tsvangirai sought refuge at the Dutch Embassy in Harare, citing concerns for his safety. He did not seek political asylum.
Tsvangirai meets Barack Obama in the White House in June 2009
On 22 July 2008, Tsvangirai and Mutambara met Mugabe face-to-face and shook hands with him for the first time in over a decade for negotiations in Harare, orchestrated by Mbeki, aiming for a settlement of electoral disputes that would share power between the MDC and the ZANU-PF at the executive level.
This was followed by the beginning of clandestine negotiations between appointed emissaries from both parties in Pretoria. The media images of hands being shaken between the political rivals also set a stark contrast to the ongoing partisan violence taking place in both the rural and urban areas of Zimbabwe.
At the end of the 4th day of negotiations, South African President and mediator to Zimbabwe, Thabo Mbeki, announced in Harare that Mugabe of Zanu-PF, professor Arthur Mutambara of MDC and Tsvangirai finally signed the power-sharing agreement – a "memorandum of understanding". Mbeki stated:
An agreement has been reached on all items on the agenda ... [Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mutambara] endorsed the document tonight, and signed it. The formal signing will be done on Monday 10 am. The document will be released then. The ceremony will be attended by SADC and other African regional and continental leaders. The leaders will spend the next few days constituting the inclusive government to be announced on Monday. The leaders will work very hard to mobilise support for the people to recover. We hope the world will assist so that this political agreement succeeds.
In the signed historic power deal, Mugabe, on 11 September 2008 agreed to surrender day-to-day control of the government and the deal is also expected to result in a de facto amnesty for the military and ZANU-PF party leaders. Opposition sources said "Tsvangirai will become prime minister at the head of a council of ministers, the principal organ of government, drawn from his Movement for Democratic Change and the president's Zanu-PF party; and Mugabe will remain president and continue to chair a cabinet that will be a largely consultative body, and the real power will lie with Tsvangirai. South Africa's Business Day reported, however, that Mugabe was refusing to sign a deal which would curtail his presidential powers. The New York Times said Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, announced: "This is an inclusive government. The executive power would be shared by the president, the prime minister and the cabinet. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara have still not decided how to divide the ministries. But Jendayi E. Frazer, the American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said:
We don’t know what's on the table, and it's hard to rally for an agreement when no one knows the details or even the broad outlines.
On 15 September 2008, the leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community witnessed the signing of the power-sharing agreement, brokered by South African leader Thabo Mbeki. With symbolic handshake and warm smiles at the Rainbow Towers hotel, in Harare, Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the deal to end the violent political crisis. As provided, Mugabe remained president, Tsvangirai became prime minister, the MDC took control of the police, Mugabe's ZANU-PF retained command of the Army, and Arthur Mutambara became deputy prime minister.
In January 2009, Tsvangirai announced that he would do as the leaders across Africa had insisted and join a coalition government as prime minister with Mugabe. On 11 February 2009 Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
Unity governmentFollowing the swearing-in of the unity government, his announced nominee for deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett, was arrested and charged with treason, which was later reduced to a charge of possessing weapons for the destabilisation of the government; Tsvangirai's government has exhibited little ability to rescind the charges. Furthermore, farmland invasions by the war veterans have continued, with Mugabe maintaining the land reform policy despite the protests of the opposition.
Tsvangirai reportedly visited Nigerian prophet T.B. Joshua in September 2010 to seek Divine intervention for the upcoming Zimbabwean elections
Speaking to This Is Africa in early 2012, Tsvangirai described how he believed the original agreement was not being honoured, stating ""Mugabe has appointed governors, when in the power-sharing agreement all appointments should be in consultation with me. He has appointed ambassadorial deployments without consulting me. He extended the appointment of some of the key security positions like Commissioner of Police beyond their term of office without consulting me. The litany of unilateral decisions is obvious.".
The unity government came to an end with the Zimbabwean general election, 2013 in which Mugabe was re-elected as president. The office of Prime Minister was abolished by the 2013 Constitution.
During a visit to South Korea in May 2010 Tsvangirai was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Pai Chai University, becoming only the 13th recipient of the honorary degree in the 125-year history of this United Methodist Church institution.