9 January 2018

Zimbabwe: Morgan Tsvangirai Hints At Retirement

Photo: The Herald
Morgan Tsvangirai.

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday gave the clearest hint yet of his possible early retirement from active politics since his disclosure in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the colon. In a statement, Mr Tsvangirai said he was seriously thinking about his future and the possibility of handing over "the levers of leadership" to the "younger generation".

Of late, Mr Tsvangirai has been in and out of hospital in South Africa where he is undergoing a series of chemotherapy sessions in his battle with the disease. Last week, President Mnangagwa paid him a visit at his Highlands, Harare, residence to commiserate with him and offer moral support. 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," said Mr Tsvangirai.

He said owing to the disclosure of his health status, he had found it prudent to appoint two additional Vice Presidents, Advocate Nelson Chamisa and Engineer Ellias Mudzuri, to assist him in his party duties. "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," said Mr Tsvangirai.

"It was therefore not by accident, but by design that when I disclosed to you my health status, I also took a bold step to appoint an additional two Vice Presidents to assist me. As I have said before, while politicians only think about the next election, true statesmen think about the next generation, for current leaders are only but caretakers for future generations," said former trade unionist, who has led MDC since its formation in 1999.

"We do not have any entitlement to lead but we have a duty to serve. We must recognise the imperative that new hands, with the full blessing of the people, must take this struggle and this country forward with the destination remaining the same -- a society that prides itself for not leaving anyone behind in their pursuit of freedom, prosperity and happiness. That is the only lasting legacy and precedence that we must leave to future generations."

Mr Tsvangirai said he was writing a book that chronicles the journey he has travelled, starting from his leadership at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to the time he joined the political fray.

"You, the people, have travelled with me a journey that had its own tribulations. Yet it was also a journey in which we worked hard and achieved so much together. I am in the process of writing a book that is set to be a collective national treasure on the great things we have achieved together over the years in our journey of service and sacrifice," said Mr Tsvangirai.

He narrated events leading to his assumption of the post of secretary general of the ZCTU during a congress in 1988 in Gweru. "Beyond what we have achieved together, we ought to leave a lasting legacy where the baton can be changed peacefully, in a tranquil and cordial atmosphere of unity and togetherness," said Mr Tsvangirai.

His worsening health condition has fuelled fighting in his party, with growing calls for him to step down by party bigwigs who believe his condition makes it difficult for him to endure the rigours of an election campaign. Zimbabwe is scheduled to go to the polls by mid-year.

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