HARARE - Zimbabwe's president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, met Friday with ailing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai but ruled out forming a political coalition with him. The opposition welcomed the historic visit, saying it sets the tone for peace ahead of this year’s elections.
Accompanied by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga - the general who led a military operation that brought him to power in November, President Mnangagwa visited former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai for about half an hour. After that, Mnangagwa quashed speculation about forming a coalition government with Tsvangirai.
"What is the cause? We are a democratic country; people can lobby for anything. Currently, there is no need," he said.
The 75-year-old Zimbabwean leader also commented on the health of Tsvangirai, who has been battling colon cancer.
“He is fine, he is recuperating very well," Mnangagwa said. "He says he will soon go again to, for further medical check ups in South Africa.”
Two years ago, Tsvangirai announced that he was being treated for the disease. Since then, he has been frail. On Friday, he did not speak to reporters after meeting President Mnangagwa.
MDC Party Vice President Nelson Chamisa had this to say about President Mnangagwa’s visit:
“It is a welcome thing. It is African to care for one another and it is very Zimbabwean. This is the new politics we want to see in Zimbabwe. We are very appreciative of what has been done," Chamisa said.
"The politics of peace, the politics of working together and feeling for one another. This is the direction," he added. "And we hope that it will be the talk that will be walked and the walk that will be sustained, because going forward, we want to see a peaceful election."
Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold elections around the middle of the year. Tsvangirai has not indicated if he will run, given the status of his health. Last month, at a party congress, the ruling ZANU-PF endorsed President Mnangagwa as its candidate for the 2018 elections.