JOHANNESBURG: Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, passed away on Wednesday. He had been suffering from colon cancer for at least two years, and his condition deteriorated rapidly in the last few days.
Tsvangirai, aged 65, died in a clinic in Johannesburg, according to The Guardian.
His illness, which was revealed in 2016, had divided the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, with three deputy leaders and other officials publicly maneuvering to succeed him.
The party will now have to choose a new leader and launch a campaign against a resurgent Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), the ruling party, to contest polls which might be held as early as May 2018.
"Tsvangirai’s death will force the MDC to convene an emergency conference to sort out the differences between the three vice-leaders. His sickness meant an impasse around internal dynamics so this might force a resolution. That’s a possible silver lining to this tragic event," The Guardian quoted Piers Pigou, Zimbabwe analyst for the International Crisis Group as saying.
The course of Tsvangirai’s life was determined by his long political battle against Robert Mugabe, the former guerrilla leader who had run Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 until November 2017.