HARARE – Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, died on Wednesday after a battle with colon cancer, party deputy leader Elias Mudzuri said. He was 65.
“As you are aware that our MDC President, 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,” Mudzuri said on Twitter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, the party and the nation at this hour.”
Zimbabwean media had reported that Tsvangirai was in a South African hospital suffering from exhaustion, weight loss and loss of muscle mass.
Media accounts also spoke of a division within the ranks of the MDC ahead of the July general elections, where the MDC will face the governing ZANU-PF, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa since the ouster last November of Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power.
The secretary-general of the MDC, Douglas Mwonzora, recently told EFE that the party was very concerned about its future without Tsvangirai.
The MC leader emerged in 2008 as a serious political threat to Mugabe, besting the incumbent in the first round of the presidential election.
While Tsvangirai ended up withdrawing for the race amid threats and violence against his supporters, he went on to serve as prime minister under Mugabe from 2009-2013.