HARARE, February 14 – Zimbabwe politicians and political commentators have expressed shock at the death of MDC-T leader and democracy icon Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai died at a hospital in Johannesburg Wednesday night after a battle with colon cancer. He was 65.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa, an independent, said he was shocked by the death of the main opposition leader.
“Although he has been unwell, we are in shock at the passing on of Tsvangirai, a true democrat who fearlessly stood up to the [former President Robert] Mugabe regime and was an inspiration to many,” he wrote on microblogging site Twitter.
“Although we may have differed politically, I held a deep respect for MT. My condolences to his family. MHDSRIEP.”
Political analyst Blessing Vava said he could not believe Tsvangirai was no more.
“We have lost a great revolutionary of our time. It’s a dark day in the history of this country, it will never be the same again,” he told the African News Agency (ANA).
Vava said “the struggle for democracy will never be the same again.
“All the same, his revolutionary spirit will forever be with us,” he said.
First to announce the sad news was one of Tsvangirai’s deputies, Elias Mudzuri, who wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Tsvangirai was born on March 10 1952.
He was the MDC candidate in the controversial 2008 presidential election, losing to former President Robert Mugabe.
The late main opposition party leader contested the first round of the 2008 presidential election as the MDC-T candidate, garnering 47,8% of the vote according to official results, which placed him ahead of Mugabe, who received 43,2%.
He claimed to have won a majority and said that the results could have been altered in the month between the election and the reporting of official results.
Initially, Tsvangirai planned to run in the second round against Mugabe, but withdrew shortly before it was held, arguing that the election would not be free and fair due to widespread violence and intimidation by government supporters that led to the deaths of several hundred people.
On March 6, 2009, he survived a car crash which claimed the life of his wife, Susan, on his way to his rural home in Buhera.
In his political life, he was arrested and assaulted several times by State security agents, at one point facing treason charges.
Top MDC-T sources confirmed Wednesday night that Tsvangirai had lost his battle to cancer of the colon at a hospital in Johannesburg.
Since 2000, Tsvangirai had always posed a strong challenge to former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
In 2008, he beat Mugabe at the polls, but reportedly failed to garner enough votes to see him in office. An election rerun saw a brutal and bloody campaign of violence which left around 400 people either maimed or dead and saw Mugabe hold onto power.
– African News Agency (ANA)