By Philip Chidavaenzi
18 January 2013
Vice-President (VP) John Landa Nkomo died yesterday at a Harare hospital after a long battle with cancer.He was 78.
Nkomo had been in and out of hospitals in Zimbabwe and South Africa since last year.
“We have lost Vice-President John Landa Nkomo,” President Robert Mugabe told journalists at State House.
“He was sick for a long time and the situation became worse yesterday (Wednesday) and he was rushed to St Annes Hospital where he died later in the morning.
“We have lost a real revolutionary, fighter for freedom, friend of the people and lover of children.
“He will be dearly missed by all of us.I want to express on behalf of government, my party Zanu PF and the Cabinet our sincerest condolences to the family, his relatives and all his friends.”
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also sent his condolences to the Nkomo family.
“VP Nkomo is an eminent nationalist, a liberation war icon and a committed patriot who will be sadly missed by all Zimbabweans,” he said. “On behalf of the MDC, my family and my own behalf, I wish my heartfelt condolences over the loss of such a committed Zimbabwean.” The late VP is survived by his wife Georgina and several children. Mourners are gathered at his Milton Park home.
One of his longtime friends and Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart said Nkomo’s death was a great loss to the country.
“Although Vice-President Nkomo was a member of a political party I clash with often, I always had a very cordial personal relationship with him,” the minister wrote on the social network Facebook.
“I first got to know him some 27 years ago when many of his colleagues in Zapu were detained and I as a young lawyer was instructed to represent them. “He would often come into my office at Webb, Low and Barry to enquire after his colleagues and we developed a good friendship which stood the test of time.“In the last four years in Cabinet we have been able to rekindle that friendship and I always found him a moderating influence in Cabinet. I last saw him when we opened a secondary school (Manqe) together in Tsholotsho last year which has been built near the primary school where he went. We had a very pleasant day together and I am pleased that he was able to do this in the twilight of his life.”
Nkomo took over from the late Joseph Msika who died in 2009. His involvement in politics dates back to 1958 when he became a member of the African National Congress from 1958-59 before joining the National Democratic Party in 1960.
In 1961 he joined Zapu and was arrested and detained at Gonakudzingwa between 1966 and 1968. The veteran nationalist went on to join the African National Council becoming deputy secretary-general in 1971. In 1976 he attended the Geneva Conference as part of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu delegation.
The following year he was seriously injured in a parcel bomb that killed top Zapu official Jason Ziyapapa Moyo. At Independence in 1980, Nkomo was elected Matabeleland North MP and became deputy Industry and Energy minister the following year.
He went on to occupy various ministerial positions, which included Industry and Energy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office, Labour, Local Government and National Housing.
Between 2005 and 2008 he was Speaker of Parliament and became Zanu PF national chairman until 2009 when he ascended to the post of VP. Funeral arrangements were still unclear by the time of going to print last night, but it is most likely that he would be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre.