- Alan Porritt-Pool/Getty Images
- Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s longtime opposition leader and former prime minister, has died at 65.
- Earlier this month, it was reported the political rival of former Prime Minister Robert Mugabe was “critically ill” in hos pital in South Africa.
- He had reportedly been suffering from colon cancer.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s longtime opposition leader and political rival of former Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, has died at 65.
His death was confirmed to Reuters by a member of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Earlier this month, it was reported he was critically ill in a hospital in South Africa. He had reportedly been suffering from colon cancer.
MDC Vice President Elias Mudzuri tweeted the party had “lost our icon and fighter for democracy.”
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.
— Elias Mudzuri (@EngMudzuri) February 14, 2018
Tsvangirai founded the MDC party in 1999, and was a key opposition figure during Robert Mugabe’s 37-year hold on power.
A popular leader who challenged Mugabe
- John Moore/Getty Images
BBC News‘ Africa Editor Joseph Winter wrote a tribute to Tsvangirai saying he was an “incredibly brave man who risked his life to stand up to the authoritarian rule of Robert Mugabe.”
Tsvangirai was the eldest of nine children, and spent his early years as a textile worker and miner.
After the country’s independance in 1980, Tsvangirai joined the patriotic ZANU-PF party, led by future rival Robert Mugabe.
In 1989, he became secretary general of Zimbabwe’s Congress of Trade Unions, before creating the MDC party and leading the opposition against Mugabe.
According to Reuters, Tsvangirai was arguably Zimbabwe’s most popular politician, defined by his years-long conflict with the former-president. He went on to form a tense working relationship with Mugabe in 2009, working briefly as the country’s Prime Minister, as part of the country’s coalition government.
Tsvangirai challenged Mugabe again in 2013 but lost, claiming election fraud.
According to the BBC, the MDC is now divided on who will lead the opposition party in elections later this year.