Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's family finally received an unexpected condolence message from his l.ong-time political rival Robert Mugabe on Tuesday
The message, coming a week after the MDC-T leader's passing, was confirmed minutes before Tsvangirai's coffin was lowered into his final resting place following his death from cancer of the colon.
Acting MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa said the message was private and could not be read out in public amidst chants from the crowd that it be read out.
"It would be improper for me to do that. We are Tsvangirai's political family, but this is a private message to his real family.
"Unless they want it read out but that would be their choice," said Chamisa.
At the turn of the century Tsvangirai fronted the formation of the MDC-T party and transformed the opposition movement into a formidable political force that gave Mugabe sleepless nights until the end of his rule last November at the hands of a military coup.
Mugabe regularly derided Tsvangirai, characterizing him as a puppet of the West who urged the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
However, Tsvangirai gave Mugabe his first electoral defeat in the year 2000 after leading opposition efforts to reject a government-sponsored draft constitution.
The opposition leader would again stun Mugabe in 2008 when he won the first round of the presidential poll of that year.