Tsvangirai opens up on his health

HARARE - In a brave and rare act of candour by an active Zimbabwean politician, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday ended weeks of morbid and frenzied speculation by his political enemies about his health, telling the nation that he had colon cancer.

The indefatigable former prime minister in the government of national unity also said while he had undergone a successful operation in South Africa last month, the procedure had only been "the first of several medical procedures" he would have to undergo in the coming months.

The Daily News was the first media outlet to exclusively reveal that the MDC president had been diagnosed with cancer when he flew out to Johannesburg for his emergency operation.

And in a thinly-disguised swipe at President Robert Mugabe -- who at 92 is getting increasingly frail -- Tsvangirai said yesterday that it was his "firm belief that the health of national leaders, including politicians, should not be a subject of national speculation and uncertainty".

Mugabe, despite boasting often that he is allegedly as fit as a fiddle, frequently flies to Singapore for what insiders have said is for medical attention -- and except for one such visit two years ago which his communications team said was for cataract treatment -- there has never been an appetite by him and his aides to take the nation into their confidence about his health.

In a statement, Tsvangirai also urged his supporters not to be consumed by his health, and to remain focused on confronting Zimbabwe's worsening rot which is widely blamed on Mugabe and Zanu PF.

“On the 8th of May 2016, my Zimbabwean doctors referred me to South Africa where a further diagnosis revealed that I am suffering from cancer of the colon. Following the diagnosis last month, I underwent an operation last month that was very successful,” he said.

Tsvangirai revealed that the diagnosis of the colon cancer was the first of several medical procedures that he would have to undergo in the coming months, which would include chemotherapy -- treatment he said would begin this week.

“As a leader and a public figure, I have taken a decision to make public my condition. It is my firm belief that the health of national leaders, including politicians, should not be a subject of national speculation and uncertainty.

“I want to thank my wife Elizabeth for her love and caring, my family, MDC members and the broader Zimbabwean society for their prayers and support on this journey. This health condition is unfortunate but can be faced by anyone. I intend to confront this development with determination to overcome it,” he said.

A medical expert who spoke to the Daily News yesterday described colon cancer as a malignant tumour arising from the inner wall of the large intestines.

“Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, non-cancerous or benign clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon cancers.

"Polyps may be small and produce few, if any symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they become colon cancer,” the medical doctor said.

Speaking to the Daily News' sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday after flying back home from South Africa earlier this month, Tsvangirai said he was doing well and raring to lead from the front the MDC’s quest to dislodge Zanu PF from power.

“There are times when people think it’s the end when it is actually the beginning … my absence has had no effect whatsoever on our programme of action. The momentum is there and we remain on course,” the jovial Tsvangirai said.

He also implored the country’s opposition to work together and take advantage of Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars to pressure Mugabe to relinquish power.

“Zimbabweans want change, a better life, a viable economy and that is what the MDC is working to deliver. The MDC will roll out more mass programmes in various provinces that will eventually culminate in a major national protest effort,” he added.

While thanking Zimbabweans who wished him well, Tsvangirai also took the unusual step of thanking his “mortal enemies and those who wished me ill” as they were “a source of inspiration” to him.

His operation in South Africa — decided on by his family after advice from local doctors — came at a time that there had been signs that the MDC leader and his party are getting their mojo back, after recently mounting mega demonstration against Zanu PF’s misrule.

Thousands of people — most of them MDC supporters clad in the party’s trademark red regalia — brought Harare, Bulawayo and recently Mutare to a temporary halt, as they marched in peaceful demonstrations against the ruling party.

Observers have told the Daily News that the demonstrations had shown that contrary to Zanu PF propaganda that Tsvangirai and the MDC were now spent forces, the main opposition was very much alive and still the major threat to the ruling party’s thuggish hegemony.

Ahead of the marches, all eyes had been on Tsvangirai, with both friends and foes keen to see the impact, or lack of, of the demonstrations as the 2018 national elections beckon.

Since Zanu PF controversially won the 2013 elections, the economy has been on a precipitous downward slide, with thousands of companies closing shop and hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs in the process.

And despite the best efforts of Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya to mitigate the situation, debilitating cash shortages continue to ravage the country, sending long-suffering citizens into panic mode that Zimbabwe has once again hit the depths of humanitarian and economic despair that were experienced in 2008.

Analysts say the cash crunch is one of the consequences of the country’s decades-old political crises that are widely blamed on Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Many political and economic observers have also warned that 2016 will in all likelihood be harder all-round than 2015, which was itself generally described as an annus horribilis (horrible year).

They said there was “little hope” that life would get better for most Zimbabweans, and that if anything, the country’s ailing economy would get sicker, while the deadly factional and succession wars ravaging the post-congress Zanu PF would worsen.

Comments (15)

the wicked on have struck; and this time, at close range! my big nose are sniffing a chavez style! thanks morgan for leaving nothing to the flute of speculation and hypothesis. where decisions have to be made, let them be made and i trust that you are in the right frame of mind to make them. get well soon!

SaManyika Chaiye - 28 June 2016

I pray that the Lord Almighty will keep you strong and resilient. Nothing is impossible with God, and as long as you rely on the Holy Book(Bible), you will eventually take us to the promised land. Read Joshua 1vs 8-10. Just kneel down and pray, the Lord will give you the power to heal and the wisdom to liberate and settle your people. All the best and speedy recovery.

nelson nyanhongo - 28 June 2016

Forward with Welshman Ncube!! Forward with Dumiso Dabengwa!! Down with outsiders!!

Mthwakazi Liberation Front - 28 June 2016

As we have all seen, the MDC-T is a political powerhouse which upholds the ideals of the institution above the individual as characterised by the typically large crowds in His Exellency Morgan Tsvangirai's absence. Let us all rally in the name of democracy and support the MDC-T because of the virtue aforesaid and show the inept murderers of democracy that political parties are led by the masses not by some self-proclaimed demi-god whose mental capacity is to seriously question. As ''Bob'' Marley once sang "Now you see the light, stand up for your rights!"

Moyo Alan - 28 June 2016

Save, bavery defines bravery.Cowards die many times b4 their death, but the brave like Save never surrender, never die. They live in body and spirit. All the best Save, God will heal, God will deliver.

kakale - 28 June 2016

Get well soon Morgiza!!!. You have set the bar high.

X-MAN IV - 28 June 2016

Remember when the wind of CHANGE is BLOWING; it doesn't BLOW on the face of the bad ones alone but also on the face of the good ones for them to see the BEST THINGS AHEAD! GET WELL SOON SAVE! GOD BLESS US ALL IN THIS MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY!

chris - 28 June 2016

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crashed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Get well soon His ExellencY.

Boterekwa - 28 June 2016

What did they do to him during GNU? Mogiza was obviously poisoned by the sons of Satan. Get well soon Morgan Regards

Rumbi Mugadza - 28 June 2016

Get well soon Sir. Thank you for your courage and determination. You have fearlessly stood up against the oppressive Mugabe regime and made us believe that ooh yes Mugabe can be challenged. We are rallying behind you and praying for you Sir!

Bigman - 29 June 2016

Get well soon PRESIDENT , i love you

JOHN FARAH - 29 June 2016


jack - 29 June 2016

he must step down and show the whole country that he does as he says,time for him to step down and give young man and woman who are strong to lead opposition politics

Dube-1 - 29 June 2016

Sorry Mr President , the good will always prevail over the evil, u will lead from the front in good health, God is an awesome God, i dont see any evil in u but only good plans for zimbabweans , god bless

positive - 29 June 2016

Here is what I call a genuine leader. Save todada nemi. Wish you quick recovery the Mighty Lord shall see you through.

Myoyos - 29 June 2016

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.