Former Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister and independence war hero Dumiso Dabengwa has died aged 79, his Foundation has said.
Mr Dabengwa, known as the ‘Black Russian’ for having trained in the then-Soviet Union and for his role as spy chief during the fight for independence, died while transiting through Nairobi from India.
He had reportedly been in India to seek treatment over undeclared illness.
Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa paid tribute to his role in the country's independence struggle.
“I had huge respect for Dumiso and his contribution to Zimbabwe: As a liberation fighter, a long standing Minister of Home Affairs and as a man. My deepest condolences are with his friends and family at this sad time,” Mnangagwa tweeted.
During last year’s elections, Mr Dabengwa had supported Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate against Mnangagwa.
The party too issued their condolence promptly.
“Our condolences to the Dabengwa family and the nation at large for the untimely death of a liberation war hero Dumiso Dabengwa. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” MDC said.
Mr David Coltart, a former Zimbabwe Culture Minister, said: “Although we were on different sides in the war and on different sides when I first stood for Parliament we became good friends and he will be greatly missed.”
Dabengwa served as Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister from 1992 to 2000.
Prior to that, he had been the intelligence chief for the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Party (Zipra) which fought for majority black rule in the then apartheid Rhodesia.
In 2008, he parted ways with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, ending a 22-year pact his party—the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu)—had had with Zanu-PF.
At the time of his death, he was the leader of Zapu and focused on his justice campaigns through his Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation.