Tsvangirai battling ‘aggressive cancer’

HARARE – A top aide of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has disclosed that the former prime minister is battling an aggressive tumour that could spread throughout his body.

It has been three weeks since Tsvangirai was discharged from a South African hospital after being airlifted from Harare following the sudden onset of severe vomiting.

The normally outspoken opposition leader has been uncharacteristically quiet ever since.

On Monday, an MDC lawmaker, Eddie Cross, said in a post that the former trade unionist was suffering from an aggressive form of colon cancer.

“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,” said Cross.

“After a lifetime of principled struggle, to have it all threatened by a disease in your body, is not fair . . . Life can be a bastard at times.”

While still on a prolonged medical sabbatical in South Africa, Tsvangirai assured Zimbabweans in a short interview with Studio 7 on Sunday that he would soon be back to “concretise” grand coalition talks.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, told the Daily News yesterday: “He is fine and he is coming back this week. Zimbabweans heard him on Studio 7. Certainly, that was not the voice of a dying man. I spoke to him today, he is fine. He will be home. I’m not sure if honourable Cross has said that.”

Details about Tsvangirai’s current conditions remain sketchy, with only the leader revealing what he sees fit to disclose.

But leading doctors who treat various forms of cancer, including those in the colon area where Tsvangirai has been stricken, say aggressive cancer points to a new, potentially critical stage for the MDC president.

“He is confronted with a very fragile set of circumstances, one of great unpredictability if the tumour is aggressive,” said a Harare-based oncologist who declined to be named for professional reasons.

“There is a risk of another lesion developing elsewhere in his body, in a lung, or in the liver. That’s called metastasis.”

The surgeon said its difficult to give a proper prognosis in the absence of direct knowledge of Tsvangirai’s health.

Tsvangirai, a 65-year-old leftist firebrand opposition leader who has formed alliances with seven other opposition parties, has been a potent political force since he formed the MDC in 1999.

But since June last year, questions about his health have dominated political discussions in mineral-rich Zimbabwe.

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That was when Tsvangirai announced that he was undergoing chemotherapy in South Africa.

The MDC president revealed in a recent Daily News interview that he had had 10 chemotherapy sessions.

He then pronounced himself that he was getting cured of cancer and resumed a hard-driving campaign to secure victory in next year’s presidential election, in which he faces a 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has said Tsvangirai should throw in the towel, claiming he has no hope of overcoming a “mammoth political party” like Zanu PF in next year’s harmonised elections and claims the bumper crowds at his presidential youth interface rallies left him “trembling”.

“It made not just the opposition tremble. Vakavamba vana Tsvangirai zvino kudedera nekumabvi uku, ndopakabva pavamba pasusukidza hurwere hwacho.

“Aiwa tinoti kandai chipfumo pasi hapana kwamunosvika. Zanu PF is the mammoth party of the country. Look at its history; takabva kupi?” Mugabe said in remarks that have provoked an angry reaction from the MDC.

Tsvangirai’s extended absence has raised questions about a possible successor to him. It is unclear who would succeed the former prime minister if he had to step down.

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