At an emotional memorial service on Wednesday at the Dutch Reformed Church in Harare, relatives of Tonderai Ndira, Better Chokururama, Cain Nyevhe and Godfrey Kauzani told stories of broken dreams, untold suffering and abject poverty.
The activists were brutally murdered during the run-up to the June 2008 presidential election run-off election where the leading contender, MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw because of violence.
Their mutilated bodies were found dumped in Goromonzi and Murehwa. Kauzani’s wife Sarudzai Chiutsi told The Standard that her husband’s death had driven her into abject poverty. An emotional Chiutsi said she now regreted why her husband ventured into politics.
She chronicled how she struggled when her disabled son who had a hole in one of his ears that stretched to the brain fell ill and eventually died in February.
Chiutsi claimed the MDC-T refused to provide her with transport to take her seriously ill son to Harare Hospital.
“I am now both mother and father to my children,” she said. “I struggled with my son alone and they even refused to give me a car to transport my son’s body for burial. They only gave me US$100. The coffin cost almost US$200 and I had to borrow money from work which I am still paying back. I have nothing to show for my husband’s struggle.”
But Chiutsi exonerated Tsvangirai, saying she did not believe he was aware of their plight. She said she last got assistance with school fees for the children, rent money and food two years ago.
“I am grateful the party helped me get a job but the money is not enough,” she said. “In the past we used to go to the MDC-T offices seeking audience with Tsvangirai but those people who work there always denied us that opportunity,” she said.
Ndira’s elder brother Cosmas, who was choking with emotion, also had no kind words for the MDC-T.
“There is no money to pay school fees for Tonderai’s children,” he said. “It pains us that his children are suffering and living in abject poverty. Tonderai used to look after his children well when he was still alive.”
Cosmas said it pained them to see senior MDC-T officials driving luxury cars and assisting their relatives to get jobs while people who bore the brunt of their fight against Zanu PF were wallowing in poverty.
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesman maintained that the party had done a lot for the families by helping some of them get jobs, start income generating projects and secure scholarships.
“In fact we have exceeded our capacity to help the children, wives and husbands of survivors,” he said. “Unfortunately, those who perished run into hundreds if not thousands and survivors run into tens of thousands. Considering the task before us, the party is bound to be overwhelmed and this is why we have called for restorative and rehabilitative justice at a national scale from the government of the day,” he said.