Xolisani Ncube and Chengetai Zvauya
HARARE – Fresh from his inauguration, President Robert Mugabe has been shattered by the death of three veteran freedom fighters in a week following the death yesterday of Zanu PF politburo member Kumbirai Kangai.
Kangai, 75, a former Cabinet minister, died at his Glen Forest home yesterday morning.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed the death and said he collapsed at his home and was rushed to a Harare clinic where efforts to resuscitate him failed.
Kangai’s death came a few days after the death of Mike Karakadzai — a freedom fighter and head of National Railways of Zimbabwe — in a car crash on Tuesday morning on his way to Bulawayo.
The following day Enos Nkala — a founding member of Zanu PF, died at a private clinic in Harare.
A day after declaring Karakadzai and Nkala national heroes, Mugabe was shattered yesterday by news of the death of Kangai, the first minister of Labour at independence in 1980. Mugabe was sworn in on Thursday at a colourful ceremony attended by six serving heads of state and retired presidents from African countries.
The Zanu PF leader was expected to immediately tackle economic recovery through the setting up of a fresh Cabinet and swearing in of newly-elected legislators. The swearing in of lawmakers was set for Tuesday, but due to the death of Zanu PF members and other national programmes, it has been moved to next week.
Gumbo, told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that it was a trying time for the ruling party which was still celebrating their July 31 electoral victory. “It is difficult to accept but ndizvo zvaitika, rufu rwauya kune macomrades edu kuda kwaMwari, hapana zvatinogona kuita.” Gumbo said.
“However, this is not going to affect us as we have to continue with the work these late comrades did,” he said adding that “Don’t read much into their deaths and think that this is the end of Zanu PF. “We still have members who are still alive to continue with our liberation legacy”.
Kangai also served as Zanu PF secretary for external affairs. The Zanu PF heavyweight was a member of Parliament for Buhera South from 1980 to 2008 when Naison Nemadziwa of the MDC took over.
He once served as minister of Lands and Agriculture, before being accused of defrauding the state grain reserve, Grain Marketing Board of ZW$228 million during the importation of 460 000 tonnes of maize in 1999.
He was however, acquitted of the charges. Before his death, Kangai was due to take oath as a Senator for Manicaland Province after winning the recent harmonised polls. Nkala at independence in 1980 became the minister of Finance until 1983 before being moved to the ministry of National Supplies.
In 1985, he became minister of Home Affairs, and then moved over to Defence after the 1985 elections. He resigned from government in 1989 at the height of the Willowgate scandal — which involved the acquisition of several vehicles from Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries by senior government officials who would resell for huge profits.
Last year, Nkala said he was bitter about the way he was forced to leave politics in 1989, insisting that he chose to resign rather than appear before the Wilson Sandura Commission over the Willowgate Scandal insisting he did not commit any offence.