Zimbabwe's Opposition Faces Rocky Road To Election As Tsvangirai Mulls Exit

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader on Monday dropped the biggest hint yet he could step down from his party, setting the stage for an election scenario not witnessed since 2002.

Long-time Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has given the strongest indication yet that he is considering retiring from active politics.

Mnangagwa, 75, rose to power last November after Robert Mugabe stood down following a de facto coup, ending a 37-year reign marked by economic mismanagement, corruption and vote-rigging allegations.

Mnangagwa's ZANU-PF party and the MDC were partners in a government of national unity for five years until 2013, eventually breaking down as acrimony between the parties re-emerged.

But that prospect may now be in jeopardy. Tsvangirai, who's 65 and being treated for cancer, was visited at his Harare home on January 5 by Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

Tsvangirai, 65, announced a year ago that he is battling cancer of the colon and has been receiving regular treatment in neighbouring South Africa.

The MDC has known division twice before, in 2005 and in 2014 following a heavy election defeat to the Zanu-PF. If anything, the needs and aspirations of young people are better served under Tsvangirai.


"It should be a democratic process and not an autocratic change of power".

Rukweza said Tsvangirai's retirement has two possible implications for his party and the MDC Alliance.

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections in 2018 in the first big test of Mnangagwa's legitimacy after he rose to power in November past year following a de facto military coup which saw veteran leader Robert Mugabe reluctantly cede power.

"Contrary to recent press reports that suggested that President Tsvangirai will soon be stepping down from the leadership of the party, the fact of the matter is that President Tsvangirai remains the leader of the MDC and he is the MDC Presidential candidate for the 2018 elections", said the party's spokesperson Obert Gutu in a statement.

Tsvangirai, 65, the self-taught son of a bricklayer who worked in a rural mine to support his family, cut his political teeth in the labour movement as a mine foreman, later becoming a top trade unionist.

He will have to juggle regional, tribal and gender considerations in looking for a successor.

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