Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) chats during his visit to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at his house in Harare on January 5, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) chats during his visit to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at his house in Harare on January 5, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

Harare — The leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, said on Monday that it was time for the older generation to step back and allow "new hands" to lead, raising prospects of leadership change in the party.

Tsvangirai, a former trade union leader who has been at the helm of the MDC since its formation in 1999, disclosed in June 2016 that he had cancer. In 2017, he spent weeks in a South African hospital receiving treatment.

Pictures of a frail Tsvangirai meeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa have increased calls that he consider giving way to a new opposition leader.

Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe in November after the 93-year old former liberation fighter was eased from office by a de facto military coup.

"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," Tsvangirai said in a statement.

"We must recognise the imperative that new hands, with the full blessing of the people, must take this struggle and this country forward."

Tsvangirai has been the opposition torch bearer since 2000 and his bitter rivalry with Mugabe, who ruled for 37 years, was often punctuated by violence against opposition supporters.

In August, Tsvangirai reunited with former allies to a forge a coalition to challenge the governing Zanu-PF party in presidential and parliamentary elections due later in 2018.

Tsvangirai has three deputies in the MDC, including the 39-year-old Nelson Chamisa, who is often touted as a future successor to Tsvangirai.

Reuters

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