Zimbabwe: Morgan Tsvangirai Cancer Disclosure and Succession Battle

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The recent admission by the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, that he is suffering from the cancer of the colony has created extensive pressure on the MDC-T party structure. While some party members demand that Morgan  Tsvangirai should step down immediately to avoid  power struggles and internal fractures  in the party, others insist that he should stay put because, according to them,  the party needs his presence now than ever.

Recovering in a hospital in South Africa, where he is being treated for the colony cancer, a  disease, health experts describe as “deadly ” if not treated in its early stages, Mr. Tsvangirai, admitted that he has been laid low by the disease as well as thanked  numerous well – wishers, including those  of the ruling party, for their goodwill messages.

While the names of Thokozani Khupe ( Tsvangirai’s deputy) , Douglas Mwonzora (party secretary general ) and  Nelson Chamisa are being heard as most likely successors, the opposition MDC-T has strongly denied any power struggle within the party. For many political observers, the succession rumour within the MDC-T party, might not be entirely a surprise. For years, Morgan Tsvangirai was regarded as the best credible candidate to defeat President Robert Mugabe. However, having failed woefully to achieve this important mission  amongst his supporters – especially the most recent loss in the 2013 general election to the ZANU- PF ruling party –  many both in Zimbabwe and amongst the international community, are beginning to question the election potentials and political chances of Morgan Tsvangirai. His inability to  defeat the aging President Mugabe, who has been in power for more than 30 years, raises many questions. The most crucial question many are now asking is, with  the sick Mr.Tsvangirai in power, can the opposition defeat the ruling ZANU-PF party – something many argue, the opposition party  could not do when their leader was healthy and politically fit? This is the most important argument opponents of Morgan Tsvangirai put forward to strongly build their case and demand for the leader’s political exit. Others argue that the party will be in a shamble without Morgan Tsvangirai.   Yet, another group wants Mr. Tsvangirai to stay in power temporarily to quickly choose his successor.

The next obvious question  is whether Morgan Tsvangirai will be willing to step aside for the sake of the opposition MDC-T party. Ironically, the present political climate could be a crucial test for Mr Tsvangirai, who has repeatedly accused President Robert Mugabe of being power-drunk and unwilling to listen to the will of the Zimbabweans, who, according to Morgan Tsvangirai, want him to step down from power. Would  history judge Morgan Richard Tsvangirai the same? Would he stubbornly cling on to the power and ignore the calls of party faithfuls to relinquish power –  the same accusation he  has long  levelled against  President Mugabe? Would Morgan Tsvangirai  take the interests of his party in mind against personal aggrandisement?  Now that   the MDC-T leader seems to have lost both financial and moral support from the international community, would he show some sign of statesmanship and quickly  initiate the succession process in order to avoid a roaming political deadlock?.

Judging from Morgan Tsvangirai’s reactions to oppositions within his party in the past, including his power struggle with his former political friend, Tendai Laxton Biti, it is   very  clear that one would not expect a delegate to Prophet TB Joshua to know what Mr Tsvangirai’s attitude is to any suggestion that he should relinquish power to others. Worse still, his lukewarm attitude towards forming a credible single opposition front against Mugabe, which would include other President Mugabe’s nemesis like Biti, Joice Mujuru, Ncube, Simba Makoni and Elton Mangoma, says much about Tsvangirai’s next political moves. Some have accused that Morgan Tsvangirai would only agree to form such an opposition force if he could lead the new party. If this accusation is credible, that makes many wonder what is in fact at stake – the soul of the opposition party and the lives of the Zimbabwean masses or the personal political survival of the opposition leaders? With their inability to form a formidable united opposition  against the ruling party, due to what many observers believe as  blatant egocentrism, many voters are now wondering whether there is really a clear difference between President Robert Mugabe and the oppositions who have long accused the President of political selfishness, insensitivities and hypocrisy.

Definitely, the  Zimbabwean political road is presently foggy. Clearly, on the one side of the road, is President Robert Mugabe, whose political battery  is increasingly showing some signs of weakness,  despite his  obvious insatiable  thirst for power. On the other side,  are other members of the opposition, amongst them,  Morgan  Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition MDC-T party, who is not only suffering from cancer, but seems to have outlived his political usefulness. In the  middle of the road is the future of  Zimbabwe. Most obviously, the battlefield has been defined. It is a  dicey battle that can build or totally destroy the country – if the political warlords (and war ladies) put their selfish interests before the general interests of the good Zimbabeans.