Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dies in South Africa

SPH Brightcove Video
Large crowds gather at a Harare church for the funeral of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's late opposition leader.
Tsvangirai (above, in 2009) died in South Africa at the age of 65. PHOTO: AFP

HARARE (REUTERS) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai died on Wednesday (Feb 14) after a long battle with cancer, casting his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party into the unknown less than three months after the army ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai, who died in South Africa, was 65.

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

Arguably Zimbabwe's most popular politician, the mining union leader's career was ultimately defined by his tussles - bother literal and figurative - with 93-year-old Mugabe, who resigned after a de facto coup in December.

Elections are due within the next six months and Tsvangirai's illness and now death leaves his party in disarray, to the advantage of the ruling ZANU-PF party, now led by former Mugabe deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.

SPH Brightcove Video
The Zimbabwe opposition stalwart's body arrived back in the country for the first time since he died in South Africa on Wednesday (February 14).

Although Tsvangirai suffered serious physical abuse at the hands of security forces, including serious head injuries in police custody in 2007, he went on to form an uneasy working relationship with Mugabe in a 2009-2013 coalition government.

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