Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe opposition leader, is dead

Opposition leader of the movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) Morgan Tsvangirai gestures during a press conference on February 5 2016 in Harare. Last month the WFP said 14 million people across southern Africa faced going hungry due to the prolonged drought, with the cost of maize -- the regional staple -- in Malawi 73 percent higher than average. "People have no money in their pockets -- a situation exacerbated by food shortages," Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told a news conference in Harare. / AFP / JEKESAI NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the opposition party in Zimbabwe, has died.

The politician suffering from cancer died in South Africa on Wednesday.

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

Moments later, Mudzuri tweeted: “It is sad for me to announce that we have lost our icon and fighter for democracy.”

Tsvangirai, who was suffering from colon cancer, had been receiving treatment at a hospital in South Africa.

He was in a South African hospital when former President Robert Mugabe gave up power. Tsvangirai had to cut short his trip to witness the transition in his country.

From being a staunch supporter of Mugabe, the deceased became a strong opponent.

Tsvangirai was born in 1952 in the village of Buhera, about 200-kilometres south of the capital Harare.

As a young man, he worked in the mines, rising from plant operator to plant supervisor. He joined Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party at the time of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

The leader claimed to have been the target of four assassination attempts – including one in 1997 in which he said attackers attempted to throw him out of his office window.