17 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Fit Enough to Run for President, Says Biti

Photo: The Herald
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (file photo).

People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti has given his emphatic backing to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, insisting the veteran politician is fit enough to front the multi-party opposition alliance to electoral victory next year.

This comes after a senior MDC-T official recently claimed that Tsvangirai was so poorly he may not be able to contest next year's elections or run the country should the opposition defeat President Mugabe.

The PDP leader was speaking in a live radio interview with a local radio station on Monday evening.

Biti also scorned allies who have since broken ranks with his main PDP wing after expressing displeasure at the former finance minister's decision to lead the party into a coalition with the MDC-T.

Tsvangirai, the country's former Prime Minister, made shock revelations last year that he was battling cancer of the colon.

The ailment has evidently robbed the opposition firebrand's energy and further stole the momentum out of his once promising political career.

But while political allies were happy to chaperon him to next year's polls in his state, fresh concerns have been raised since he was last month flown to South Africa with signs his condition had deteriorated.

Tsvangirai spent nearly three weeks while receiving specialised treatment across the Limpopo.

Since his quiet return home last week, he has not been seen in public but close aides have adamantly claimed he was fit and raring to take another shot at a job that has eluded him for nearly 15 years.

Biti was on Monday perhaps first from those outside Tsvangirai's inner circle to vouch for the opposition heavyweight's physical fitness to head the multi-party alliance for next year.

The so-christened MDC Alliance comprises the two MDC breakaway groups headed by Biti and former Welshman Ncube, the MDC's founding secretary general.

"Yes, we have absolute confidence in Morgan Tsvangirai and none among us is fit enough to play doctor to his life. We are going to support him and we will stand with him," Biti said.

Asked if he thought Tsvangirai would pull through to next year in his current condition, Biti responded, "Absolutely, absolutely! That's what we have chosen; that's our decision as Zimbabweans and we owe him that."

Biti said his differences with MDC-T when they broke away 2014 were "never about a person" but were "differences based on objective issues".

The one-time MDC-T secretary general said those quick to point at Tsvangirai's perceived frailties were in fact Zanu PF loyalists who were ironically blind to their own leader's physical frailties.

Biti's comments ran contrary to MDC-T top official Eddie Cross's recent statements Tsvangirai would not handle the gruelling schedule often associated with election campaigns, let alone rule the country in his state.

President Mugabe, similarly, has scoffed at his arch-rival's persistent attempts to dethrone him in the country's successive elections.

Mugabe, 93, told his party recently that Tsvangirai's ailment was in fact, a result of continuous defeats he has handed his nemesis in national elections since 2002.

Meanwhile, Biti said on Monday that he will not be stopped from joining the MDC-T led opposition alliance by his disgruntled party allies.

He said the sorry state of the country under nearly four decades of Zanu PF rule compelled opposition forces to suspend their differences and concentrate on how to hand common enemy Zanu PF electoral defeat next year.

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