Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) deputy president and Morgan Tsvangirai's long time ally has said that he is "ready to lead the party" when the veteran leader decides to steps down.
The MDC-T Deputy President Nelson Chamisa, told News24 on Wednesday that Tsvangirai remained the party's "best way forward" but if he was to retire he would be ready to take over from the veteran politician.
Chamisa said he has worked with Tsvangirai for 18 years, and has since learned a lot from him.
"Tsvangirai remains the icon of the party; he is our mentor and is the face of the party in the coming polls. The party has given him enough time to recuperate and take the party to its glory. But if he steps down, we're ready to lead," said Chamisa.
He has, however, cautioned that the MDC structures were the ones that would have to decide on his future when the party's founding leader steps down.
Tsvangirai had recently hinted that he was going to retire from politics, less than two months after the end of his longtime foe President Robert Mugabe's 37 years' rule.
The leader, who is battling colon cancer, has led the MDC-T party since its formation in 1999.
In a statement, Tsvangirai said he is "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."
If he retires, as is widely expected, this year's presidential election will be the first without a duel between Tsvangirai and Mugabe since 2002. Only a few months ago both insisted they would stand in the election.
"We're currently meeting and consulting our structures. The party has to make that decision. Our best way forward remains Tsvangirai. But, because of circumstances we're preparing for that… Well, we're not preparing to take over but to take off. We are preparing to succeed and take the party forward. And again the issue of taking over remains an issue of the party and we're awaiting that decision," said Chamisa.
He said that the party was going to hold its elective congress in 2019, but was now preparing for the forthcoming elections.
He said the party was going to launch its election manifesto between the end of January and February.
The southern African country is expected to hold its presidential election later this year.