Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri has died, according to an announcement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The 65-year-old minister died at a private hospital in the capital, Harare, according to local media.
The minister’s driver is reported to have recently succumbed to Covid-19.
President Mnangagwa eulogised the minister as “a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country”.
I am deeply saddened to inform the Nation of the death of the Minister of Agriculture, Air Chief Marshall (rtd) Perrance Shiri, a long time friend and colleague. Cde Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country.MHRIP pic.twitter.com/r2FBeRNPpT
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) July 29, 2020
An assessment of his legacy is already underway.
The retired military general Perrance Shiri, whose death was announced on Wednesday, played a key role in the country’s massacre in the early 1980s.
The killing of thousands in South-Western Zimbabwe was ordered by former President Robert Mugabe in a crackdown against his opponents.
Mr Shiri was the commander of the feared fifth brigade, a North Korean trained crack unit, that was responsible for the operation. Up to 20,000 civilians are feared to have been killed.
Many believe the government has done too little to bring closure to the affected families. There have been no prosecutions or public apology.
Army officials who were involved in the operation have over the years been promoted to government positions.
Mr Shiri later played a key role in the removal of President Mugabe from power in 2017.
In a condolence message, President Emmerson Mnanagwa described the former Air Chief Marshall as a long time friend, a true patriot who devoted his life to liberation and service of his country.