Zimbabwe’s opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa, left, of the Movement for Democratic Change speaks at a news conference. Picture: Reuters
Youthful politician Nelson Chamisa has emerged as the leading contender to succeed long-time Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is battling ill-health.

Tsvangirai’s battles with colon cancer have heightened calls, including from within his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to hand over power after leading the party since its formation in 1999. Chamisa is one of his deputies alongside Elias Mudzuri and founding woman activist Thokozani Khupe.

However, Tsvangirai has lately been assigning crucial party undertakings and responsibilities to Chamisa, which analysts said was the first step towards the lingering succession issues afflicting the party. This includes meetings with other opposition formations to select alliance parliamentary candidates ahead of the watershed elections later this year.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC secretary-general, confirmed that Chamisa would lead the meeting.

“We are going to meet with VP (vice-president) Chamisa on Tuesday (today) to deliberate on the issue of candidates’ selection,” said Mwonzora.

Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller MDC splinter group, also confirmed that Chamisa would head the process.

“If we are going to have MDC Alliance rallies Chamisa is going to represent Tsvangirai,” Ncube added.

Zimbabwe is set to hold elections in August, the first to be held without veteran leader Robert Mugabe. His Zanu-PF party has endorsed President Emmerson Mnangagwa as its candidate. Mnangagwa, who confirmed last week that Tsvangirai will seek treatment in South Africa, has assured that polls will be credible. 

- CAJ News