Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dies aged 65

Mr Tsvangirai, who was a high-profile opponent of Robert Mugabe, has been called an 'icon of democratic struggle'

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai dies aged 65

File photo of Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Picture by: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/Press Association Images

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has died aged 65, a spokesman for his party said.

Mr Tsvangirai died in South Africa, where he had spent more than a year undergoing treatment for cancer.

The veteran politician was known as one of the most prominent opponents of Robert Mugabe and his regime during their 30 years in charge in Zimbabwe. 

The Movement for Democratic Change party's vice president Elias Mudzuri described Mr Tsvangirai on Twitter as "our icon and fighter for democracy".

Over the course of his political career, Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested on a number of occasions and in 2007 was reportedly tortured by members of Zimbabwe's special forces.

Mr Tsvangirai was made Mr Mugabe's prime minister between 2009 and 2013 after he saw a surge in support in elections. The office of prime minister was abolished in 2013.

93-year-old Mugabe resigned late last year several days after the army seized power.

The opposition leader's death comes only a few months before the first general election in Zimbabwe since Mugabe was ousted, with voters set to take to the polls in May or June.

Tributes were paid to Mr Tsvangirai across social media this evening, including by his former adviser Alex Tawanda Magaisa.