HARARE, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is battling cancer of the colon, has provided the clearest hint yet that he is considering stepping down because of poor health.

Tsvangirai has been in and out of hospital recently, leading to calls for him to hand over power of his opposition party, MDC-T, so that it has a chance at the polls this year against a rejuvenated ruling party, Zanu PF.

However, analysts contend that the MDC-T could split again along factional lines if Tsvangirai stepped down as its leader. MDC-T itself is a faction of the original Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which Tsivangirai found in 1999, as an opposition party to Zanu PF.

In a New Year message to his supporters, Tsvangirai said the new season had presented him with an opportunity to ponder about his future. At a personal level, I feel an air of satisfaction as I reflect on the great journey we have travelled together even as I seriously ponder about the future, he said.

I am looking at the imminent prospects of us as the older generation leaving the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task that we started together so many years ago.

Tsvangirai said his appointment of two party vice-presidents, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri, was meant to provide the party with a clear succession plan. It was therefore not by accident that when I disclosed to you my health status I also took a bold step to appoint an additional two vice-presidents to assist me," he said.

"While politicians only think about the next election, true statesmen think about the next generation for current

leaders are only but future generations. We do not have any entitlement to lead but we have a duty to serve.

We must recognize the imperative that new hands, with the full blessing of the people, must take this struggle and this country forward with the destination remaining the same.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai commended President Emmerson Mnangagwa for visiting him at his home last week. He said the visit signified the opening of a new page in Zimbabwean politics.

The visit can be built upon by truly well-meaning Zimbabweans to herald a new politics of engagement in our country, he said.

President Mnangagwa and his deputy, retired general Constantino Chiwenga on Friday visited Tsvangirai at his Highlands home to check on his condition and spent more than an hour together in a move which surprised many people but was welcomed as a spirit of goodwill.