BULAWAYO – Respected lawyer David Coltart, believes no one among the current crop of opposition leaders can fit in the shoes of MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, saying he was the only one with the national appeal and stamina to beat Zanu PF in the next elections.
The former Education minister said the state of Tsvangirai’s health was a cause for concern both to the MDC and the MDC Alliance.
Tsvangirai is battling cancer of the colon amid increased pressure from the general public, civic society and politicians for him to hand over the baton.
However, in his new year message to the nation, Tsvangirai hinted on stepping down, in a move that has amplified a succession battle within the MDC.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Daily News yesterday, Coltart said in the event Tsvangirai fails to recover in time that could spell doom for the opposition in the country.
“The situation has been made difficult by Tsvangirai’s health difficulties which I am very sympathetic about. What if, for whatever reason, he decides to resign, or if he is not going to stand as the MDC Alliance’s presidential candidate, it may be difficult for the Alliance to build a consensus around some other person, other than Morgan Tsvangirai,” he said.
Coltart said there was no one in the opposition who had equal support to that of Tsvangirai.
“He was acknowledged by the main parties to be the individual politician able to defeat a Zanu PF candidate. There is really no one else among the opposition leader who has the same gravitas, same charisma and support as Tsvangirai,” he said.
In the event Tsvangirai decides to step down citing health issues, Coltart predicted chaos in the opposition.
“I fear there may be a serious contestation that takes place, firstly within the MDC who will take over from him and secondly within the broader MDC Alliance who may not be happy with whoever the party puts forward.”
“Again, if Tsvangirai is unable to stand, we cannot be guaranteed that one of his deputies, if he takes over will be equally committed to the alliance and that will have a catastrophic effect on the alliance,” he added.
As a result, he said, it was necessary for the nation to pray for Tsvangirai’s recovery, adding that if health continued to fail him, it was also necessary that he rests away from the strenuous political domain.
“But once again, our first hope is that Tsvangirai recovers. It’s a hard thing to say because it deals with very personal issues of health but Tsvangirai must be receiving advice from his doctors regarding chances of recovery and what he needs to do to recover fully.
“I am not a doctor and I don’t pretend to be one but I know when I have been ill in the past, the best way to get better is by resting,” he said.
My concern is that is we all insist on Tsvangirai running for elections when he really needs to rest we will be doing him disservice and adversely affect his health.”
Above all, Coltart suggested that there be an honest discussion among party and MDC Alliance leaders to chart the way forward regarding Tsvangirai’s future.
“I think there is need to have an honest discussion within the MDC and the MDC Alliance leadership centred on Tsvangirai so that we all understand the state of his health and what his doctors are advising so that we can then make decisions based on that medical advice.”
He added: “But if his medical advisers tell him that he should not continue I think he still has a critical role to play using his position and experience to ensure that there is a smooth transition of power within the MDC Alliance and help to bring a consensus among the alliance partners. – Daily News