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from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare
HARARE – A retired military general among the masterminds of the coup that ousted Robert Mugabe in 2017 is the most prominent figure to succumb to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Zimbabwe.

Perence Shiri, the former commander of the Air Force, died on Wednesday (today) at the age of 65.

Unconfirmed reports indicated he died from complications from the pandemic that has claimed 40 lives from 2 817 cases.

He had been admitted to hospital two days earlier after complaining of respiratory problems.

Shiri was the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement at the time of his death.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed him to the position in December 2017, a month after Mugabe was dislodged in a coup plotted by military generals.

He was retained in that portfolio after Mnangagwa won elections that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claimed was marred by rigging.

The president expressed deep sadness to confirm the death of a man he described as a longtime friend and colleague.

“Cde (comrade) Shiri was a true patriot who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” president Mnangagwa said.

The deceased was born Bigboy Samson Chikerema in 1955.

He was among numerous Zimbabwean individuals the United States and Western nations slapped with sanctions for alleged human rights violations and vote-rigging over the years in the Southern African country.

– CAJ News

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