Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
MDC-T national executive member Mr Eddie Cross has revealed that his boss, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s, illness is taking a toll on the opposition leader that he may fail to take part in the 2018 elections.
This is the first revelation on the state of Mr Tsvangirai’s health that has been kept under wraps by both party and family with his spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka repeatedly saying the former Prime Minister was making a steady recovery.
However, in an article titled “Not Fair” published on his website, Mr Cross paints a gloomy picture on the health of the former trade unionist’s life and says his family thinks he no longer has strength to pursue politics.
Mr Cross has used his website in recent weeks to discuss crucial party issues. Before the latest article, he torched a storm after he accused some MDC-T and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of sabotaging the formation of an opposition alliance by pursuing a tribal agenda.
He also notes how the MDC-T that once enjoyed funding from hostile western countries to push a regime change agenda has hit hard times resulting in the opposition party failing to pay its employees.
“Now, just as we expect a wave of support for our 2018 Chakachia programme, he is suffering from an aggressive form of colon cancer (sic),” writes Mr Cross.
“He has been struggling with his treatment and the family is concerned that he might not handle the election and subsequently the responsibility of being President of a country in a deep crisis. After a life time of principled struggle, to have it all threatened by a disease in your body. Life can be a bastard at times.”
However, MDC-T secretary general Mr Douglas Mwonzora yesterday dismissed Mr Cross’ claims as mere speculation.
“We don’t know where Honourable Cross is getting that from. It is conjecture, the president will be back either tomorrow (today) or the day after. I have spoken to him (Mr Tsvangirai) and he was in high spirits and is ready to come back to work so I don’t see any reason to fear,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai, who revealed last June that he was battling cancer of the colon, was last month airlifted to South Africa after his condition drastically deteriorated during a workshop in Kadoma.
The MDC-T president was reportedly on oxygen support and drip when he was ferried by an ambulance to the airport and left for South Africa in the company of his wife, Elizabeth, his medical doctor and an anaesthetist.
Mr Tsvangirai who is has been in South Africa ever since, is expected in the country this week. His deputy, Ms Thokozani Khupe, is acting party president.
At the time his health deteriorated, Mr Tsvangirai had fallen out with Ms Khupe, party national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo and national organising secretary Mr Abednico Bhebhe as they failed to agree on the formation of an opposition coalition under the banner of MDC Alliance.
Mr Tsvangirai’s illness has also reignited succession politics within the troubled party with a clique calling on him to step down and make way for one of his deputies Mr Nelson Chamisa to take charge of the party and contest for the presidency in the 2018 elections.
Mr Chamisa, on one hand, reportedly leads a faction angling for him to succeed Mr Tsvangirai and is involved in a fierce tussle with another reportedly led by Ms Khupe.