Opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has for the first time hinted he might retire, just under 20 years after transforming largely labour-based movement into a formidable political force and providing the greatest opposition to former President Robert Mugabe's dictatorship.
In a statement Monday, Tsvangirai who is reportedly in South Africa where he is receiving treatment for colon cancer said he is using "this New Year not only to reflect on the onerous journey that we have travelled together but also to peer with renewed hope into a bright future."
"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 Tsvangirai.
The ailing former premier last week left ex-Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri I charge of the party amid growing calls for him to step down as leader after pictures showing him in a bad state emerged from his impromptu meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Tsvangirai announced two years ago that he was fighting colon cancer and immediately appointed two more deputies in a move that left many baffled. However, the former Prime Minister said the move was no accident.
"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. We do not have any entitlement to lead but we have a duty to serve.
"We must recognize 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."
Tsvangirai's other VP Nelson Chamisa is also seen as a contender to the former labour leader's throne while Thokozani Khule, Tsvangirai's long-time lieutenant remains a dark horse.
The former Prime Minister said Mugabe's departure under duress from the military was not enough, adding Zimbabweans must demand jobs and a clear roadmap to legitimacy.
"As we move towards the upcoming elections, we must not lose sight and misinterpret what happened in November 2017," he said.
"The departure of Mugabe resulted in a change of guard at the helm of our state but #ChangeIsNotEnough. This country requires transformation of both our governance culture and the way we do business.
"Our war cry, therefore, for the upcoming elections is simple 'Munhu Wese Kubasa', 'Umuntu wonke emsebenzini', 'Everyone to Work'.
"Whether you are an investor, a commercial farmer, an industrialist, a teacher, a banker a worker or a peasant farmer, let's all go back to work in order to prosper. We need to produce in order to grow our economy and create new jobs."
Tsvangirai warned that anything short of a return to full democratic rule "spells doom" for Zimbabwe adding the upcoming elections must be internationally monitored and observed to ensure fairness and transparency.