Reports from South Africa have intimated that Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is critically ill. The 65-year-old former prime minister, who is suffering from colon cancer is being treated in a South African hospital.
Morgan Tsvangirai was rushed to South Africa for treatment in June last year, but he returned to Zimbabwe after receiving treatments. However, latest reports say that he is suffering from weight loss, muscle thinning and exhaustion. Sadly, the health of Mr. Tsvangirai, the once chubby leader of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has deteriorated terribly on Monday, according to the family source. He is reportedly having breathing problems, loss of appetite and worrisomely difficulties to swallow fluids.
Mr. Tsvangirai is seen in Zimbabwe and beyond as the most credible political opposition to former President Robert Mugabe. As the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s symbol of resistance, had faced a lot of human rights abuses including imprisonment, in the hands of Mugabe. He also sustained serious injuries in a car accident, which claimed the life of his wife. Although many in the opposition camp pointed an accusing finger at the then President, Mr. Mugabe, there was not enough evidence to buttress that accusation.
In the controversial 2002 presidential election, Tsvangirai contested under the platform of the MDC, losing to Mugabe. Again, contesting in the first round of the 2008 presidential election as the MDC-T candidate. Mr. Tsvangirai defeated President Robert Mugabe, taking 47.8% of the vote, according to official results. President Mugabe came second with 43.2%. Mr. Tsvangirai insisted he won the election, claiming the results could have been doctored. Although he initially planned to participate in the second round of the election against President Mugabe, he withdrew, claiming the election would not be fair and free due to widespread violence and intimidation, mostly against the opposition camp. The violence claimed more than 200 innocent lives.
Morgan Tsvangirai was full of hopes and optimism for Zimbabwe last November after Robert Mugabe was forced to resign. Mr. Tsvangirai, the former Prime Minister described the exit of President Mugabe as a “new trajectory” that would lead to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe is gone into a political wilderness, and succeed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
With Morgan Tsvangirai critically ill and perhaps practically impossible to exercise his duties and mount credible challenges to the ruling party, ZANU-PF, is the opposition in Zimbabwe heading to oblivion? Are there other credible and strong forces in the opposition camp to change the political equation in Zimbabwe?