Zimbabwes opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has died. The opposition party’s acting president Engineer Elias Mudzuri announced.
Eng Mudzuri made the announcement via his twitter handle.
“As you are aware that our MDC T 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, the party and the nation at this hour,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai has been battling cancer of colon for sometime. He was 65
Tsvangirai, who founded the MDC in 1999, was among the most prominent critics of Mugabe, the long-time authoritarian leader who was ousted from power in November.
Elections are due within the next six months and Tsvangirai’s illness and now death leaves his party in disarray, to the advantage of the ruling ZANU-PF party, now led by former Mugabe deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“It is sad for me to announce that we have lost our icon and fighter for democracy,” Elias Mudzuri, one of the vice-presidents of the MDC, said on Twitter.
Mr Tsvangirai’s death was confirmed to The Telegraph by a family member.
Mr Mugabe’s government detained him on numerous occasions over his vocal criticism of the regime.
Security forces swooped on Mr Tsvangirai in 1989 after he bluntly warned about the rising tide of political repression in the country.
Mr Tsvangirai also claimed to have been the target of four assassination attempts – including one in 1997 in which he said attackers attempted to throw him out of his office window.
In the late 1990s, he went on record in the local news media claiming that assailants had tried to throw him from his office window. In 2001, he narrowly escaped the hangman’s noose when he was tried on charges of plotting to kill Mr. Mugabe before the 2002 presidential election.
In 2003, Mr. Tsvangirai faced a treason charge for urging his party supporters to topple Mr. Mugabe’s government. The case was thrown out without going to trial.
Four years later, he was among many opposition supporters who were beaten as they tried to stage an anti government rally. Mr. Tsvangirai sustained head injuries that drew broad international media attention.
“Yes, they brutalized my flesh,” he said in a message from his hospital bed. “But they will never break my spirit. I will soldier on until Zimbabwe is free.”
Mr. Tsvangirai’s party split in two in 2005, when a faction led by Welshman Ncube, the party’s former secretary general, broke away.
The two sides disagreed on whether they should participate in planned Senate elections. Mr. Ncube thought the opposition should participate; Mr. Tsvangirai did not.
Then came the turmoil and bloodletting of 2008. Mr. Tsvangirai was initially optimistic about the future of the unity government, despite being denied an outright victory in the first round of voting, in which he had trounced Mr. Mugabe, his longtime rival.
“We will deliver a new Zimbabwe to the people,” he said while announcing his party’s decision to become part of a unity government.
But events offered a different course.