Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai died on Wednesday in South Africa after a long battle with cancer, the vice president of his Movement for Democratic Change party said.
“I can confirm that he died this evening. The family communicated this to me,” Elias Mudzuri told Reuters.
Tsvangirai, 65, a former prime minister, had reportedly been suffering from colon cancer.
Tsvangirai’s career was marked by a long political struggle against former President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai had reportedly been in critical condition since early last week, although on 6 February he had sought to reassure supporters that he was on the mend.
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
“I am shocked to read in the press that I am in a critical condition. Of course I have cancer and not feeling too well but I am stable and the process is under control. I have been frequently on Twitter of late, I am recovering,” he said.
On Wednesday, his deputy Mudzuri announced 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 first ran for president in 2002, before shocking the political establishment by winning the first round of the controversial 2008 election. The violence that followed this vote led to the creation of a government of national unity, in which Tsvangirai served as Prime Minister.