Harare (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday consoled the Shiri family following the death of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister, Chief Air Marshall Perrance Shiri (Rtd).
Shiri, a former commander of the Airforce of Zimbabwe, died on Wednesday morning from a yet undisclosed ailment.
In a condolence message, President Mnangagwa expressed shock at the death of the cabinet minister, whom he described as a stalwart of the country’s war of liberation.
He said the late Shiri joined the liberation war in 1973 after abandoning school together with Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Rtd, and rose rose through the ranks to become overall commander of Tete Province.
“Under his command, several spectacular missions against the enemy were carried out, among them the 1978 blasting of oil tanks in Salisbury, itself the heart and citadel settler power. Indeed that military action which was undertaken by a specialised Zanla unit which he mentored reverberated well beyond the immediate theatre of war and proved a turning point in our struggle for national liberation,” he said.
“After the struggle, he would continue serving his country in the military, including playing a salutary role in the integration process by which erstwhile warring armies were re-oreinted and re-moulded into a cohesive national army.”
President Mnangagwa said Shiri, who became independent Zimbababwe’s second Air Force commander after Air Marshall Josiah Tungamirai, discharged his duties with distinction.
He said professional qualifications, which include two Masters Degrees in Business and Development, helped him in the discharge of his duties in whichever portfolio he served, the latest being the Ministerial one.
“Always focused, hardworking and hands on, the late Minister Shiri was key to revamping our food sector by ensuring our farmers were fully mobilised, motivated and supported to mechanise, modernise and climate-proof our agriculture for sustainable national food security.
“Barely a month ago, we launched an agriculture equipment initiative he concluded with an American company, John Deere. Except for his untimely demise, we would have launched yet another of his many initiatives on mechanisation, this time with the Republic of Belarus,” President Mnangagwa said.
“It was also during his short lived ministerial tenure that he reached out to and opened negotiations with former white commercial farmers with a view to breaking the impasse over the age old national land question. Only this morning, (Wednesday), we signed an historic agreement with the former farmers, itself a crowning moment for his tireless efforts. Sadly as fate would have it, he would not live to witness this historic moment. We will miss him sorely”
President Mnangagwa urged the Shiri family to take comfort in the legacy left behind by the late former Air Force commander.
“He remains our hero together, making his demise a blow we all keenly feel and share,” he said,
Burial arrangements are expected to be announced in due course.