Zimbabwe’s Morgan Tsvangirai dies aged 65

He had a long political struggle against former President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s Morgan Tsvangirai dies aged 65

He had a long political struggle against former President Robert Mugabe

15 February 2018 Thursday 06:44
Zimbabwe’s Morgan Tsvangirai dies aged 65

Morgan Tsvangirai, the icon of the opposition in Zimbabwe has died while in hospital in South Africa, a senior MDC party official has revealed.

The former Zimbabwean Prime Minister had reportedly been suffering from colon cancer.

"He died this evening. The family communicated this to me," MDC vice president Elias Mudzuri told Reuters.

He had a long political struggle against former President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai, 65, has been beaten and imprisoned many times during his political tussle with Mugabe.

Announcing Tsvangirai's death, Mudzuri said on Twitter that the MDC had "lost our icon and fighter for democracy".

Tsvangirai founded the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) in 2000, repeatedly challenging Mugabe during the ex-president's long grip on power.

Brave and charismatic

According to BBC’s Joseph Winter, Morgan Tsvangirai was an incredibly brave man who risked his life to stand up to the authoritarian rule of Robert Mugabe.

He did not succeed in ousting Mugabe - due to the intimidation of his supporters and some blatant rigging - but he did at least live to see the downfall of his long-time rival.

Although he was obviously very sick, he even traveled home from South Africa, where he was being treated, for the occasion.

But in purely political terms, Mugabe always managed to get the better of the charismatic former union leader - especially when he was prime minister and they were supposedly sharing power.

Some of his ex-comrades in the MDC, which he founded, accused him of dictatorial tendencies and the party split several times.

Now, the MDC will have the formidable task of trying to unite and mount a credible challenge to Mugabe's successor Emmerson Mnangagwa in this year's elections.

In the 2008 election, Tsvangirai gained the most votes in the first round but not enough to win outright.

Before the second round of voting, Mugabe's security forces carried out a campaign of violence against opposition supporters, and Tsvangirai withdrew.

Mugabe was declared the winner, but an international outcry over allegations of violence and vote-rigging led to a power-sharing agreement in which Tsvangirai would serve as prime minister.

Tsvangirai ran against Mugabe again in 2013 but lost by a landslide.

The MDC is said to be divided over who should lead it into elections later this year against the governing Zanu-PF party, led by Mugabe's successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.


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