Morgan Tsvangirai, the well-known Zimbabwe’s opposition leader lost his life to colon cancer at 65. Tsvangirai died in a clinic in Johannesburg. This has put an end to his long campaign to lead his country, which landed him in jail, with beatings and accusations of treason.
It was since the past two years that Tsvangirai was suffering from colon cancer. He was also undergoing a treatment in South Africa. It was his deteriorating condition over the past few days which lead to his demise.
Tsvangirai’s death is certainly a major loss to the opposition in Zimbabwe as it has happened only months before the first elections were due to be held in the former British colony since the end of Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule last year.
The party will now have to choose a new leader to contest polls in upcoming elections. It is looking forward to launch a campaign against a resurgent Zanu-PF, the ruling party.
“Tsvangirai’s death will force the MDC to convene an emergency conference to sort out the differences between the three vice-leaders. His sickness meant an impasse around internal dynamics so this might force a resolution. That’s a possible silver lining to this tragic event,” said Piers Pigou, Zimbabwe analyst for the International Crisis Group.
Expressing his remorse on Tsvangirai’s death, Elias Mudzuri, one of the MDC’s vice presidents, tweeted: “Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai has not been feeling well for some time, it is sad for me to announce that we have lost our icon and fighter for democracy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, the party and the nation at this hour.”
Temba Mliswa, an independent MP, called Tsvangirai “a true democrat who fearlessly stood up to the Mugabe regime and was an inspiration to many”.
He added: “Although we may have differed politically I held a deep respect for MT.”
David Coltart, one of the founders of the MDC, said Tsvangirai was “one of the giants of the long struggle to bring democracy to Zimbabwe”. He added: “I will remember him for his courage, humility, humour and relentless determination.”