By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Lands Minister Perrance Shiri who notoriously led the Gukuruhundi Massacres as the Fifth Brigade army commander has died from the coronavirus a day after his driver succumbed to the deadly virus. President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a statement confirming his death.
“I am deeply saddened to inform the Nation of the death of the Minister of Agriculture, Air Chief Marshall (rtd) Perrance Shiri, a long time friend and colleague.
“Cde Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country, ” Mnangagwa said in a statement.
On Wednesday, his co-deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos paid tribute to his boss.
“I received a call in the early hours of this morning with shocking news. It is with a heavy heart that I learnt of the passing on of Air Chief Marshall (RTD) P. Shiri,” the deputy minister wrote on his Facebook page.
“I have worked with Cde. Shiri for almost two years now as his deputy minister. He was an extremely hard worker, dedicated to our Nation, a patriot, and a nationalist.
“I will truly miss him and promise to continue with his vision of making Zimbabwe the breadbasket of Africa once again. Go well Honourable Minister Shiri.”
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa also confirmed the death of Shiri.
“I’m gutted to just receive news that Rtd. Air Marshal, Hon. Perrence Shiri, popularly known as “Gudo Guru” during the liberation war, is no more.
“A true nationalist & Commander par excellence, the late Shiri was one of the hard working & effective members of Cabinet. MHDSRIEP 🙏🏿,” Mliswa said.
The 65-year-old former Air Force commander missed cabinet on Tuesday after he reportedly fell sick and hospitalised.
Zimbabwe’s defence minister Oppah Muchinguri in March called the coronavirus pandemic a “punishment” of the US and Europe for imposing sanctions against members of the ruling regime over human rights abuses.
Zimbabwe recorded 3009 Covid-19 cases and 40 deaths.
Shiri known was known as ‘Black Jesus’, during the Gukurahundi Genocide. He was the Commander of the notorious Fifth Brigade, which massacred innocent civilians in the Matabeleland and and Midlands provinces in the eighties.
Between 1983 and 1987 the Fifth Brigade brutally crushed any resistance in Matabeleland and many atrocities were committed. An estimated 20,000 civilians died and were buried in mass graves and to this day the issue has not been addressed.
The intensity of their actions during the mid-1980s is associated with a specific Shona word: Gukurahundi. This is most simply translated as “the rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains.”
President Mnangagwa was State Security minister at the time of the killings. Nehanda Radio