VETERAN Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has died at the age of 65 after battling against cancer.
Tsvangirai, who founded the Movement for Democratic Change in 1999, was among the most prominent critics of ruthless dictator Robert Mugabe who was ousted in November.
Party official Elias Mudzuri said on Twitter: "It is sad for me to announce that we have lost our icon and fighter for democracy".
Mugabe's government detained Tsvangirai on numerous occasions over his vocal criticism of the regime.
Security forces swooped on him in 1989 after he bluntly warned about the rising tide of political repression in the country.
Tsvangirai also 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.
Mugabe came to hold a grudging respect for his opponent in later years.
In 2013 he said: "Although we boxed each other, it's not as hostile as before. It's all over now. We can shake hands".
He died on Wednesday after 18 months of treatment for colon cancer in neighbouring South Africa.