#Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai airlifted, battling for life in South Africa

Tsvangirai airlifted, battling for life in SA

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was early yesterday morning airlifted to South Africa on a life-support system after his health drastically deteriorated as he was attending an MDC Alliance strategic meeting in Kadoma on Thursday, NewsDay can exclusively reveal.


Highly-placed sources said Tsvangirai, who last year disclosed that he was fighting cancer of the colon, reportedly started vomiting after lunch resulting in him excusing himself from the meeting before heading back to Harare. His condition, according to high-level sources, deteriorated further.

The sources told NewsDay that his local medical doctor, Macdonald Alifazema, recommended that he be flown to South Africa for surgery as his condition had become dire.

Tsvangirai was reportedly airlifted around 2am on a chartered private jet to a medical facility in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The MDC-T leader, sources told NewsDay, was accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, Dr Alifazema and an anaesthetist nurse only identified as Muzavazi.

“He travelled on H.A.C Reg ZS – MBS at 0200hrs and was transported in an Ace ambulance from a local hospital before he was airlifted to South Africa,” NewsDay heard.

Alifazema is a Harare-based general practitioner, who was confirmed to be in South Africa by his office when NewsDay tried to make an appointment with him yesterday. He was expected back in Harare late yesterday evening.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka would neither deny nor confirm the development that could have a huge bearing on the negotiations for a grand coalition of opposition parties.

“Why should I be dignifying morbid speculation with a comment?” Tamborinyoka retorted.

MDC-T was reportedly yesterday being represented in the alliance talks by one of Tsvangirai’s deputies, Nelson Chamisa, who had initially travelled with Tsvangirai to Kadoma.

A source said other senior opposition parties leaders feared for Tsvangirai especially those that saw him before he was evacuated to the neighbouring country.

“He was on oxygen and drip and had been vomiting heavily. We are not sure what happened to him, but the situation is extremely bad and the president really needs our prayers,” the sources said.

The development has since put on hold meetings which he was supposed to hold with his other deputy Thokozani Khupe, chairman Lovemore Moyo and suspended organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe over disagreements over the formation of the MDC Alliance that Tsvangirai entered with several other opposition parties ahead of next year’s crunch elections.

Parties to the alliance have reportedly been demanding a clear succession plan in the event that Tsvangirai becomes indisposed or incapacitated due to his health ahead of crucial elections set for next year, a situation that seemed to have pushed the MDC-T into a corner.

Tsvangirai’s problems have been exacerbated by growing differences with Khupe over the pre-election pact. Khupe has argued the MDC-T was strong enough in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces to go it alone, but would need alliances in Mashonaland provinces.

Tsvangirai disclosed in June last year that he had cancer of the colon before undergoing successful treatment in South Africa.

In the aftermath of his public announcement about his battle with the condition, Tsvangirai shocked his party’s foundations and supporters by appointing Chamisa and former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri as his deputies together with Khupe.

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