Longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been battling cancer. His strong hint that he will step down comes as Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections later this year following the resignation of Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday signaled that he would step down as the head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
“I am looking at the imminent prospects of us as the older generation leaving the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task that we started together so many years ago with our full blessing and support,” Tsvangirai said in a statement.
The 65-year-old has been battling colon cancer and has regularly spent time in South Africa for treatment since announcing the illness in 2016.
“We must recognize the imperative that new hands, with the full blessing of the people, must take this struggle and this country forward,” Tsvangirai said, in the biggest hint yet that he will step down as opposition leader.
A former prime minister and trade unionist, Tsvangirai is one of the most recognized names in Zimbabwean politics. He has led the MDC since it was founded in 1999.
“At a personal level, I feel an air of satisfaction as I reflect on the great journey we have travelled together even as I seriously ponder about the future,” Tsvangirai said.
The statement comes as Zimbabwe gears up for presidential and parliamentary elections expected later this year.
The 39-year-old Nelson Chamisa is considered a top contender to lead the party against the ruling ZANU-PF.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with a frail looking Tsvangirai last week.
Tsvangirai also called on Mnangagwa to hold free and fair elections, which will be the first since longtime president Robert Mugabe resigned after the military and ZANU-PF abandoned him in November in a de facto coup.