Friday 27 October 2017


Ailing MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was on Wednesday airlifted to South Africa for urgent medical attention as his failing health begins to cause panic in his 18-year-old opposition party.

The Daily News can report that Tsvangirai boarded the South African Airways flight on Wednesday afternoon, in the company of his wife, Elizabeth.

MDC insiders said while the former prime minister was walking on his own, he looked sickly and pale.

Tsvangirai has been to the neighbouring country more than a dozen times since he publicly re-vealed that he was fighting cancer of the colon in June last year.

He was last flown to South Africa mid-September, where he spent close to a month holed in a top-notch hospital.

Since then, he has taken a backseat from the gruelling political duties on the advice of his doctors who have asked him to take a sabbatical from politics.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, who spoke to the MDC leader before he flew to South Africa, confirmed to the Daily News that the former trade unionist had left the country for what he referred to as a “routine medical” check-up.

“President Tsvangirai is on a short break, still resting and winding up his health issues, which are already in the public domain. Health-wise he is fine and the nation has absolutely no need to panic at all,” he said.

One of Tsvangirai’s top aides, Eddie Cross, revealed a fortnight ago that the MDC now needs to look beyond the increasingly frail opposition leader because his colon cancer is now “aggressive”.

He now faces disciplinary charges over his remarks.

When cancer becomes aggressive, medical practitioners say, it would have mutated.

This could be pointing to a new, potentially critical stage.

Tsvangirai told the Daily News in April that he would live everything in the hands of God because “cancer is unpredictable and could mutate”.

Despite feigning bravado in his current affliction, he is apparently worried by some “power mongers” in his party who are already looking at the post-Tsvangirai era and positioning themselves for eventual takeover.

His mounting health woes have also thrown the party’s preparations for the crucial 2018 elections in shambles with the coalition he leads now lacking direction while his party’s 18th anniversary has been on ice for a couple of months now due to his absence.

The Daily News is reliably informed that before his departure to South Africa, Tsvangirai had warned his party members from speculating over his health.

The MDC currently has three vice presidents, namely Nelson Chamisa, Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri.

MDC insiders told the Daily News that there is a silent war brewing between factions in the country’s largest opposition party as Tsvangirai continues to excuse himself from critical party businesses due to his heath woes.

Tamborinyoka said the three vice presidents have clear mandates given to them by Tsvangirai.

He said there were no grey areas because in terms of oversight, Mudzuri was in charge of overseeing elections, organising and party building. This means that the current voter registration exercise falls under Mudzuri’s ambit.

Khupe oversees administration, finance as well as the women’s assembly while Chamisa is in charge of youth advocacy, party communications and policy issues.

“So the presidency, as an office, retains its oversight on the full spectrum of all its activities, even in the temporary absence of . . . Tsvangirai. As I said, even as he winds up his health issues, he continues to execute his mandate and to give due attention to the mammoth matters that require his personal attention,” said Tamborinyoka.

Asked whether his boss has appointed an acting party president, Tamborinyoka said no such thing ever took place since Tsvangirai is still able to attend to duties that specifically require his hand even as he battles cancer.

He said all the three vice presidents have their duties which makes the party move even in the absence of the principal.

“(In the absence of Tsvangirai) the three vice presidents are in charge, each ably giving the presidential attention that might be needed in the relevant areas that they supervise across the full party spectrum, in line with their mandates as given to them by . . . Tsvangirai,” he said.

“There is no acting president during his current short break, and I say so advisedly. The president returned to work and you saw him last week issuing a public statement after he convened a meeting of the principals of the MDC Alliance in his capacity as its presidential candidate. The party is not orphaned at all because the three vice presidents have their duly given mandates; supervisory roles that cover the full spectrum of all party activities,” he added.

Tamborinyoka said any talk of an acting president in this instance was a cheap attempt aimed at diverting the MDC from the key issue at hand — voter registration in which everyone has to take part.

“So who is acting in Tsvangirai’s absence at the moment is a peripheral matter. In fact, I would hasten to say every Zimbabwean must act in his absence; acting to ensure that we urge each other to vote so that we consign this inept regime to the dustbins of history,” said Tamborinyoka.

Last week, Tsvangirai chaired the MDC Alliance meeting in Harare.

Yesterday, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu uncharacteristically referred comments about Tsvangirai’s health and the consequent effect on party business operations to Tamborinyoka.
Daily News


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