Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri died early this morning from complications related to COVID-19. He was 65.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF First Secretary announced his death in a statement: I am deeply saddened to inform the Nation of the death of the Minister of Agriculture, Air Chief Marshall Perrance Shiri, a longtime friend and colleague,” he said.
“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country.”
He did not say how he died. Sources said Shiri may have been exposed to the virus from his driver, whom sources claimed died last Saturday and was buried the following day.
Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was a retired general who was among military chiefs who ousted the late President Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup.
A liberation war veteran, Shiri had a chequered past. He commanded the army’s Fifth Brigade unit that carried out the 1980s massacres of thousands of civilians in western Zimbabwe as the government sought to quell an insurgency.
The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, a Shona term meaning the ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, remain a sore point for the people of the Matabeleland region, many of whom demand justice and reparations.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008.