Obituary – Susan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwean premier's wife keen to help poor

Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of Zimbabwe's prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, was killed on Friday, at the age of 50, when a seven-ton aid truck hammered into th

Parallels were drawn between this new but shortlived figure in the
senior echelons of Zimbabwe’s government, and the country’s first lady,
President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace – the "queen of consumers", whose
spending habits have contributed to the collapse of morale in the
country. The wife of the new premier – he was sworn in on 11 February –
had run a sewing and catering business before her husband went into
politics. She made her own alterations to clothes she had bought from
discount stores.

Susan was born in Buhera, as was Morgan, about 50 km south of Harare,
the country’s capital; the convoy in which the fatal accident happened
was heading there so that Morgan could address a rally in his home
region the following day. The couple met in 1978, when Morgan was
foreman of a local nickel mine. They married later that year, and had
three daughters and three sons together.

An unquestioning supporter of her husband, she said of him in an
interview shortly before her death: "He is a good man, husband and a
loving father.

Once he sets his eyes on a target he never takes his eyes off the target until he has achieved it.

"He is a man of great determination, and above all a man of great
courage. I think he has proved his courage to the world. He has fought
Mugabe for 10 years and is still fighting. We all know that Mugabe’s
tactics are not always above board, but that didn’t faze my Morgan."

In 2003, she was very distressed to see him in prison, and sat in court
to hear the treason proceedings against him. She visited him in prison
and saw the gashes in his head after he was arrested and assaulted in
March 2007. As she put it: "I would be lying if I said it has been
easy. There were times when I so feared for my husband’s life that
sleeping was no longer part of my life, I just prayed. As a mother, I
feared for my children. I felt that they were so vulnerable. But at the
end off the day I had to support my husband, that is the role of a
wife, a good wife at least."

A deeply religious woman committed to the alleviation of poverty and
HIV/Aids, she ran a soup kitchen from her own home in Harare. Though
she often accompanied her husband to political events, she rarely spoke

publicly: when she did, her personal charm proved very effective.

Perhaps to distract herself from fears about her family, she set up the
Comfort, or Nyaradzo Trust, the Shona word being taken from her middle

Subsequently renamed the Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai Foundation, it aims
to help Zimbabweans, particularly women and children. She wanted "to
not only feed them but teach them to feed themselves. Return normality
to children’s lives. Seeing them playing in the parks, going to school.
The way things used to be in this beautiful country. Help get things
back to what they were, and make them even better if time permits."

Sadly, in Susan Tsvangirai’s case, it did not. She is survived by Morgan and her children.

. Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai, activist, born 24 April 1958; died 6 March 2009
The Guardian (UK)

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