Zimbabwe vice president Msika dies at 85


Msika died Tuesday in a hospital in Zimbabwe, the report said. He was admitted to hospital in South Africa in June after falling ill at a summit of eastern and southern African leaders, the radio report said.

Reports in Zimbabwe at the time said he had suffered a stroke. He had had poor health since 2005.

Msika, who was 85-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s senior by just a few months, had been state vice-president since 1999. Joice Mujuru, wife of influential former army general Solomon Mujuru, is the other vice-president.Both Msika and Mujuru maintained their positions after Mugabe formed a coalition with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in February.

Under the terms of the power-sharing agreement, President Robert Mugabe gets to name two vice-presidents from his Zanu-PF party. Party chairman John Nkomo is deemed a strong candidate to replace Msika.

As a member of Zimbabwe’s Ndebele minority, which was brutalised by the army in a bloody crackdown on the opposition in the 1980s, Msika was one of the few senior Zanu-PF members to speak out about state-sanctioned human rights abuses.

He publicly took Mugabe to task over the killings of thousands of Ndebele civilians and later questioned the sincerity of Mugabe’s apology.