Morgan Tsvangirai is the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - the official opposition party in Zimbabwe.
The party is currently contesting the country's national elections against the ruling Zanu PF party lead by Robert "Mad Bob" Mugabe.
The elections (scheduled to be held on the 9th and 10th of March 2002) are of critical importance to the entire Southern African region. The main concern is that if the elections are not free and fair it will have a destabalising effect on the region causing more economic turmoil in countries like South Africa and
Botswana, not to mention extending the misery of the people of Zimbabwe.
Of great concern currently are the high treason charges brought against Tsvangirai by the Zimbabwean police after a video surfaced which allegedly shows Tsvangirai discussing a plot to assassinate Mugabe. Two other members of the MDC (Welshman Ncube and Renson Gasela) were also charged.
These elections have not been happy ones. Initially Mugabe refused to have international observers in the country to monitor the elections and even wanted to ban all foreign media from Zimbabwe. After pressure by the European Union (which eventually led to limited sanctions being imposed on Mugabe and his inner circle) some international observers were allowed.
But despite Mugabe's compromises the latest disruption to the campaign process does not bode well for the outcome of the elections.
Mugabe has become notorious in South Africa recently for his flagrant freedom of speech and human rights abuses, the near-destruction of his country's economy (through the disruption of commercial farming) and
for the paranoid way in which he has gone about eliminating the opposition to his rule.
Mugabe has been in power for 22 years and in that time Tsvangirai has been the strongest opposition to him that Zimbabwe has produced.
He was born in 1952, the son of a bricklayer. He worked as a textile weaver
and then as a miner. Soon he was leading the mining union and by the late
1980s was head of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Tsvangirai is
the founder member of the MDC which formed in 1999.
Zimbabwe is a rich country which can contribute tremendously to the development of Southern Africa, but while politicians like Tsvangirai are inhibited in contesting elections fairly there seems to be very little hope of the country emerging out from underneath the shadow of "Mad Bob".
For more on the elections see http://www.iol.co.za/html/news/zimbabwe/index.php