Harare: Former Zimbabwean government minister Kumbirai Kangai, a close ally of President Robert Mugabe and key leader in the fight to end British rule, died on Saturday, a party official said.
“I can confirm that one of our party stalwarts, comrade Kumbirai Kangai, died suddenly this morning,” Rugare Gumbo, spokesman for Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party said.
Kangai collapsed at his home and died on admission at a private clinic in the capital. He was 75.
“We don’t know yet the cause of his death but we suspect it might be a heart attack. It is a sad hour for ZANU-PF and the people of Zimbabwe,” said Gumbo.
Kangai’s death came just days after that of Enos Nkala, another top ally of Mugabe.
One of the highest-ranking commanders in Zimbabwe’s liberation movement fighting against British colonial rule in the 1970s, Kangai held various government positions after independence in 1980 including minister of agriculture and labour.
During his time in government he became the first cabinet minister to be arrested on corruption charges.
Until his death he was a member of ZANU-PF’s highest decision-making committee, the politburo, and the party’s secretary for external affairs.
Kangai was a member of parliament from 1980 until 2008 when he lost to a member of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
On Wednesday, Nkala, who was defence minister during a massacre of some 20,000 ethnic Ndebele, died aged 81. The cause of his death is not yet known.
Nkala co-founded the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) party in 1963 to fight against British colonial rule and served various posts in Mugabe governments.