Zimbabwe: Controversy Surrounds death of Lands & Agriculture Minister as Police Quash Street Protests against Corruption

Minister Shiri Perrance who has since been declared a national hero, died on Wednesday July 29 after failing to drive himself to the hospital. He only managed to call his friends who rushed to the scene, but he died before he could be attended to at a Chinese health facility.


His death fueled speculations considering that his personal driver had died from the novel Coronavirus over the weekend.


Mr. Shiri had been in isolation since then with mild symptoms. On Tuesday he missed the Cabinet meeting, and Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba confirmed that Shiri had gone into self-isolation.


When his death was announced there was much speculation with some sources saying the minister had been poisoned. There have been serious factions within the ruling Zanu PF Party with reports of warring parties jostling for power and recognition.


Minister Shiri’s family members said before he died, he had experienced severe vomiting and was showing symptoms consistent with food poisoning. They claimed that doctors who initially attended to him also suspected food poisoning.


However, President Emerson Mnangagwa put a damper on the poisoning theory Thursday July 30 when he told mourners while conveying his condolences that the minister had died from a Covid-19 related infection. He said the laboratory results were made available to the authorities.


"Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country," Mr. Mnangagwa said.


Meanwhile the normal funeral procedures will not be followed as burial will strictly be as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Health officials will preside over the burial in strict adherence to the guidelines, State authorities said.  


Permanent secretary for information Nick Mangwana said the funeral would not be open to the public.


"A maximum of 50 people made up of family members of the late hero, a few Cabinet Ministers, a few Politiburo members, Chief Justice, Speaker of the House of Assembly and President of the Senate will attend. Media is restricted," he said.


Covid-19 cases have been on a sharp rise in Zimbabwe (almost 3000) with local cases exceeding those of returnees. To date, over 41 people have died from the disease and many had their tests confirmed post-humously.


The rise in local transmissions has forced the government to invoke a curfew of 6pm to 6am with strict regulations on those entering the CBD.


Empty Harare Streets on Jyly 31, abandoned by the people as Police multiplied scare tactics


However political analysts have accused the government of hiding behind Covid-19 to prevent masses from taking part in the planned July 31 national protests against corruption.


Police confront citizens in secondary streets of Harare


President Mnangagwa has said the planned demonstrations were illegal and anyone who will take part shall be arrested.


Pockets of protesters determined to make their voices heard found places to express their disgust publicly


Police have been hunting down suspected organizers and have held the family of Zimlive Editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu hostage. They have allegedly been demanding that he come out of hiding and surrender himself. The situation has been tense, ahead of the Friday July 31 planned protests with heavy police and military presence.