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Tea from an earthenware pot

by Judi McLeod

April 14, 2003

Count Susan Tsvangirai, wife of Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan, among the very many praying for an end to the war in Iraq.

With a collective world eye understandably trained on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, another brutal dictator thousands of miles away continues to inflict unprecedented violence and terror upon his people. Yet, at this moment in time, Robert Mugabe is not even a blip on the world’s radar screen.

Susan, whose husband’s trial for treason has been postponed until May 12, is dangerously out of world spotlight in the dark shadows of Zimbabwe.

This is a wife who could easily serve as a poster girl for standing by her husband against incredible odds.

Surrounded by heartache, danger, and death, she retires by night with indelible mental pictures of black farmers thrown off of farms with literally nowhere to go. Pictures of famine and HIV/Aids compete with the anxiety she feels about the fate of her husband.

Tsvangirai’s wife since 1978, Susan has seen it all.

Only prayer and an unflagging hope for better days to come keep her going.

It’s difficult to believe that it was only a year ago that this mother of six was confident that her husband would be Zimbabwe’s next leader after booting President Robert Mugabe out of office.

"I have been praying to God that things should go on well and I’m confident that I will be serving you tea at State House come next week," said Mrs. Tsvangirai at the time.

Instead, two weeks before polling, her husband was arrested for plotting the assassination of Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai says the government fabricated the case against him and two senior party colleagues in a plot to destroy the opposition.

Susan has said that if she ever becomes First Lady, her main focus would be the empowerment of women in the country who for a long time have been neglected and sidelined from the public sphere by political parties, industry, and commerce.

"My plans will evolve around Nyaradzo Homes, an organization I formed to deal with women’s issues with a special bias towards those living with the HIV/Aids virus," she said.

"Women at the grassroots level would be my main focus."

Women in Zimbabwe, she said, were very enterprising, and all they needed was a supportive First Lady who would also influence her husband to put in place policies that will improve their lot.

She plans to set up a trust fund for women’s income generating projects before moving on to deal with the youths.

It’s typical of Susan Tsvangirai to envision a future with her pouring tea for visitors at State House. It will be tea poured from an earthenware pot, rather than limoge. Every inch the housewife, she has long provided the homey touches and an atmosphere of stability in the very worst of times.

The wife of the Zimbabwean opposition leader makes a stark contrast to Grace Mugabe, who dresses in designer clothes and recently posed for photographs with her husband while in Paris.

Her attire is as unpretentious as she is and could come from any flea market.

It is not surprising to find the only airs put on by the Tsvangirais are strictly middle class. Morgan, after all, is the son of a bricklayer.

Mrs. Tsvangirai, who tends to six-year-old twins Millicent and Vincent among her brood of six, is a kind of housemother to her poverty-ridden country.

Her husband’s major advisor, as she has always been there by his side from the time he decided to enter the political fray, she has at least this much in common with Mugabe’s deceased first wife. Those closest to him say that Mugabe, very much influenced by his first wife, was overcome with grief by her death, and that his decline as Zimbabwe leader began with her passing.

Little has happened to discourage Susan Tsvangirai, or to frighten her away from her husband’s side. "God is our ultimate shield," she says.

Meanwhile, the war in Iraq will end, and the day of First Lady Susan Tsvangirai pouring tea for the women of her country will come to pass.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]

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