Harare (New Ziana) –The late national hero, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri (Rtd) succumbed to Covid-19, President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed on Thursday.
The revelation of cause of death puts to rest frenzied fake social media reports that he had been poisoned allegedly by rivals in the ruling party.
The reports were widely seen as part of the ongoing campaign by government critics to draw a wedge between top ruling party officials.
Shiri, a former commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
He will be buried at the National Heroes Acre on Friday.
President Mnangagwa revealed the cause of death at the Shiri home in Borrowdale where he had gone to pay his condolences.
“Now that it is confirmed that Minister Shiri died of Covid-19, we now have to follow World Health Organisation regulations on how the funeral should proceed,” he said.
Providing further details of the burial, Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said a maximum of 50 mourners would attend in line with Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
“The funeral is not open. A maximum of 50 people made up of family members of the late hero, a few Cabinet Ministers, a few Politburo members, Chief Justice (Luke Malaba), Speaker of the House of Assembly (Jacob Mudenda) and President of the Senate (Mable Chinomona) will attend. Media restricted,” he said.
“Mourners to be seated by 1200 hours. Burial at 1400 hours. All World Health Organisation protocols to be observed.”
The late Shiri was born in 1955 in Gweru.
His distinguished military history dates back to 1973 when he, together with Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga abandoned school to join the war of liberation.
He rose through the ranks to become a member of the ZANLA High Command in 1977.
At independence, he joined the Zimbabwe National Army and attained the rank of Brigadier General in 1982 before transferring to the Air Force of Zimbabwe as Air Commodore in 1984.
He then became the second post-independence Air Force of Zimbabwe commander from 1992-2017 after Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai.
Following his retirement from the Airforce in 2017 with the title Air Chief Marshal, Shiri became a Cabinet Minister tasked with spearheading the revival of the country’s agriculture sector.