MDC leader vows to ignite campaign

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defiantly vowed yesterday to continue his campaign to topple President Robert Mugabe as he headed to hospital for injuries received in police custody.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defiantly vowed yesterday to continue his campaign to topple President Robert Mugabe as he headed to hospital for injuries received in police custody.

"The police assaulted defenceless civilians but the struggle continues," Tsvangirai said as he was led from a Harare courthouse into a police van that took him for treatment.

The comments were the first from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader since he was arrested on Sunday when police crushed a planned anti-government protest.

Tsvangirai and 49 other opposition activists were given clearance to get hospital treatment after appearing in the dock for trying to stage the rally in defiance of a government prohibition.

Tsvangirai's arrest on Sunday, the day after his 55th birthday, is another round in the fight against his 83-year-old nemesis who once put him on trial for treason and allegedly robbed him of power by fixing elections.

The MDC leader began his professional life as a textile weaver and in 1988 was elected secretary general of what later became the militant Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

His persistent defiance of government policies has resulted in him being detained by the authorities on numerous occasions.

In 1997 he narrowly escaped death when aggressors burst into his office and tried to hurl him from a 10th floor window.

Tsvangirai's power to mobilise the masses became apparent when in 1997 and 1998 he spearheaded a series of general strikes against the government that brought the country to a standstill.

A member of the Shona majority who neither smokes nor drinks, Tsvangirai is married with six children. - Sapa-AFP

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