Basildon Peta: Susan Tsvangirai - An ordinary woman with extraordinary charm

Share
Related Topics

What I most admired about Susan Tsvangirai was that she knew that the success of your family was dependent on the success of your country. She never moaned about what life was like for her and her children and the risks that came from living with Robert Mugabe's nemesis. It was always about the children of Zimbabwe. It was a typical caring and motherly attitude that Zimbabwe had always wanted from its First Lady but never got.

She was a total contrast to Grace Mugabe. Where Grace was known for her extravagance, her shopping sprees, her love of designer labels, Susan was an ordinary woman who wore ordinary clothes and lived an ordinary lifestyle. When Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of the presidential elections last year, and looked poised to oust Mr Mugabe, people flocked to Susan offering to groom her for her new role, remodel her hairdo and update her wardrobe. She was actually annoyed by these overtures, these attempts to curry favour.

I visited the Tsvangirais several times before I was forced to flee from Zimbabwe. They lived in a simple three-bedroom house – a far cry from the multimillion-dollar Mugabe mansion. Whenever you were in their company, you got this sense of a perfect union. On one occasion in 1997 – after her husband had survived an attempt to throw him out of a 10th-floor window – Susan was tenderly changing his bandages. Her love and affection was very touching.

She was not part of the political machine, and bar the odd appearance at party rallies, she preferred to stay out of the limelight, but their commitment to each other was never in doubt. For a woman who lived with death threats, intimidation by security forces and a string of attempts on her husband's life, she kept an impeccable sense of calm and never forgot the importance of good humour.

During the third treason case against Morgan in 2007, his wife confided: "Look, it's difficult for me, but I have no choice but to support the cause my husband is fighting for." It was the cause she believed in and she thought her husband was doing the right thing. If it was not for her support, it would have been very difficult for Morgan to remain engaged.

He once said that the best decision he had made in his life was to marry Susan. Her death is going to devastate him. He's a very strong character, he has felt first-hand the worst that repression can offer, and he bears innumerable scars of his struggle against Mugabe.

But this is going to crush him. I just cannot imagine the pain and hurt that he's going to feel, and it is going to make his already difficult task of being Prime Minister even harder.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Secondary supply teachers required in Wisbech

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers ne...

PPA Cover Teachers Required in Doncaster

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Primary PPA Teachers required for wo...

Maths teachers needed for supply work in Ipswich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teachers requir...

Executive Assistant/Events Coordinator - Old Street, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Executive Assistant/Event...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Fifi Geldof (left) with her sister Pixie at an event in 2013  

Like Fifi Geldof, I know how important it is to speak about depression

Rachael Lloyd
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering