ZIMBABWE – Veteran nationalist and Vice President John Landa Nkomo, has died. He was 79. VP Nkomo who had been battling cancer, died at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare yesterday morning.
Announcing the demise at State House President Mugabe said VP Nkomo had been battling the disease over the past few years.
“The moments we are in are sad moments. We have lost our Vice President John Landa Nkomo. “He was suffering for a long time from cancer and all of a sudden we heard the situation had deteriorated yesterday (Wednesday).
“He was taken to St Anne’s Hospital and he passed on sometime this (yesterday) morning. “I would like to express on behalf of Government, our party Zanu PF, my own self, Cabinet, our sincerest condolences to his family, to his dear old mother, relatives and friends,” President Mugabe said.
The President described VP Nkomo as a real revolutionary. “We have lost a fighter for freedom, a friend of the people, lover of children, not so long ago we opened a school in Tsholotsho, his school. “He will be dearly missed by all of us. We will be making a much broader message of condolence later,” he said.
The President later during the day visited St Anne’s Hospital where he is understood to have viewed the body and talked to medical personnel who last attended to Nkomo.
The body was later removed from the hospital by Doves Morgan funeral parlour. There was little activity at the VP’s Milton Park residence when The Herald arrived during the afternoon. The security details were still not entertaining people as they were waiting for an official announcement to be made.
Born on August 22 1934 in Tsholotsho District Matabeleland North Province, VP Nkomo dedicated his life to the struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe, exiting the world in the lofty office of Vice President of Zimbabwe.
He was one of the founding members of the African National Congress between 1958 and 1959. VP Nkomo joined the National Democratic Party in 1960 before joining the Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1961.
He was arrested on several occasions by the Smith regime and detained at Gonakudzingwa. He joined the African National Council where he was deputy secretarygeneral in 1971. Nkomo attended the Geneva Conference as part of the PF Zapu delegation led by his predecessor, Father Zimbabwe Dr Joshua Nkomo in 1976.
He was injured in a parcel bomb that killed Cde Jason Ziyapapa Moyo in 1977. After independence in 1981 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy and remained serving in government until 1984. Following the Unity Accord of 1987, he became Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare from 1992 to 1995.
He was named Local Government Minister between 1995 and 1997, before he became Minister in the renamed Ministry of Local Government and National Housing from 1997 to 1999 and Minister of Home Affairs in 2000 to 2002.
Following a cabinet reshuffle of August 25 2002, Nkomo was moved to the position of Minister of Special Affairs in the President’s Office.
Following the March 2005 parliamentary elections, Nkomo became Speaker of Parliament in April 2005, a position he held until the 2008 harmonised elections.
As recognition of his service to the country, the late Nkomo was again appointed Senator in 2009 and subsequently Minister of State in the President’s Office in February 2009 following the formation of the inclusive Government.
Owing to his maturity and resoluteness, Nkomo was given the National Healing and Reconciliation portfolio, a position he held with both wisdom and ability.
Nkomo served as Zanu-PF national chairman from January 1 2006 to August 26 2009, when he was elevated to position of second secretary and vice president of the party following the demise of Vice President Joseph Msika that same year.
As a consequence of his elevation to the party’s vice presidency, Cde Nkomo was sworn Vice-President of Zimbabwe in December 2009. Subsequently during 2008 parliamentary elections he was appointed to the Senate by President Mugabe on August 25 2008.
Later, when the inclusive Government was formed in February 2009, Nkomo became Minister of State in the President’s Office and chairperson of National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration.
He was elected Vice-President of Zanu-PF by a party congress on December 12, 2009, succeeding Msika, who had died in August and consequently sworn in as Vice-President of Zimbabwe on December 14.