politics

Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Tsvangirai Suggests He May Retire

  • ‘New hands’ needed to take struggle forward, MDC head says
  • Tsvangirai’s comments follow end of Mugabe’s 37-year reign
Morgan Tsvangirai Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party hinted Monday at his possible retirement, less than two months after the end of his longtime foe President Robert Mugabe’s almost four-decade rule.

“We must recognize the imperative that new hands, with the full blessing of the people, must take this struggle and this country forward,” Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change said in a statement emailed from the capital, Harare.

Mugabe, 93, was deposed in a near-bloodless coup in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 15, with Emmerson Mnangagwa later becoming the southern African nation’s second president since independence in 1980. Tsvangirai, who’s 65 and being treated for cancer, was visited at his Harare home on Jan. 5 by Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

On Monday, Tsvangirai said his appointment of two party vice presidents to assist him was part of a process whereby the “older generation” will cede “the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task that we started so many years ago.”

A former labor leader, Tsvangirai formed the MDC in 1999 and ran in elections against Mugabe in 2002, 2008 and 2013 that Western nations said lacked credibility and were marred by violence against opponents of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. Tsvangirai, who was twice charged with treason and cleared, said last year he was seeking treatment in neighboring South Africa for colon cancer.

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