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Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dead at 65

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dead at 65
From CBC - February 14, 2018

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 (MDC) party said.

"I can confirm that he died this evening. The family communicated this to me," Elias Mudzuri told Reuters.

A powerful orator from humble beginnings, Tsvangirai was arguably Zimbabwe's most popular politician and came within a whisker of unseating Robert Mugabe only to be outmanoeuvred and ultimately outlived by his long-time nemesis.

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.

@EngMudzuri

At the peak of his career, the self-taught son of a bricklayer served as prime minister to Mugabe's president in a 2009-2013 unity government cobbled together after a disputed and violent election in which scores of his supporters were killed.

His presence helped stabilize an economy in freefall, but Mugabe reneged on pledges to overhaul the former British colony's partisan security forces, and Tsvangirai was shunted back into his familiar role as opposition gadfly.

A hefty electoral defeat in 2013, blamed in part on Tsvangirai's involvement in two sex scandals, ended his dreams of one day leading the southern African nation. Three years later, he revealed he was being treated for colon cancer.

His death came after 18 months of treatment in neighbouring South Africa.

Despite their rivalry, 93-year-old Mugabe harboured grudging respect for an opponent who suffered multiple abuses at the hands of security forces, including a police beating in 2007 that left him with deep gashes in his head.

During their time in power together, the two men developed an uneasy working relationship, squabbling frequently but also taking afternoon tea every Monday and even joking about their frequent head-butting.

"I have got my fair share of criticisms and also dealt back rights and lefts and upper cuts. But that's the game," Mugabe said on the eve of the 2013 vote, mimicking the movements of a boxer.

"Although we boxed each other, it's not as hostile as before. It's all over now. We can shake hands."

In the coalition's early days, Tsvangirai even said he found Mugabe to be "very accommodative, very charming."

Challenging Mugabe

As a young man, Tsvangirai worked in a rural mine to support his familyhe had six children with his first wife, Susanand cut his political teeth in the labour movement as a mine foreman.

In 1988, he became full-time secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which broke ranks under his leadership with Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, a bold step less than a decade after independence.

'Flawed figure'

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