Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, said to be devastated by the death of his defence minister, has cancelled a visit to Indonesia, said a government official on Sunday.
Defence Minister Moven Mahachi was killed in a car crash in the country’s eastern highlands on Saturday.
“The president is devastated by the sudden death of Comrade Mahachi and has cancelled his trip to Indonesia,” said the official.
Mugabe was due to leave for Indonesia on Sunday.
Mahachi is the second minister to die within a month. Border Gezi, a senior minister in Mugabe’s government died late last month, also in a road accident.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Mahachi, 52, died when his official vehicle collided with another car in Nyanga district in Manicaland province which borders Mozambique.
Mahachi was a member of parliament for Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party and a member of the party’s politburo.
He held various ministerial posts after Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party came to power when the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980.
Mahachi was regarded by many as one of Mugabe’s most loyal and trusted officials.
But government insiders say he was only a figurehead at the defence ministry which Mugabe has effectively controlled over the years.
Political analysts say that although Mahachi had been involved in the war in the Congo, where Zimbabwe has deployed thousands of troops to back the Kinshasa government, Mugabe and his closest confidante, speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, were the central figures behind the military intervention.
Despite strong opposition at home, where many Zimbabweans are struggling against a severe economic crisis, Mugabe has deployed over 11 000 troops – more than a quarter of the 40 000-strong national army – in the former Zaire to help the government fight rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda. – Reuters