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Zimbabwe VP dies

Africa

Harare - Zimbabwean vice-president John Nkomo has died after a long battle with cancer, President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday.

Nkomo, 78, was said to have died at Saint Anne's hospital in Harare.

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Zimbabwean Priminster, Morgan Tsvangirai, left congratulates newly sworn in Zimbabwes second vice President John Nkomo at State House in Harare, Monday, December, 14, 2009.Nkomo was sworn in following the death of Joseph Msika early this year.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

“We have lost our vice-president John Landa Nkomo, he was suffering for a long time with cancer,” said Mugabe

“We have lost a real revolutionary, a fighter of freedom, a friend of the people, he will be dearly missed by all of us.”

Nkomo was appointed to one of the country's two vice-presidencies under Mugabe in late 2009.

Responsible for overseeing financial, economic and environmental policy he was seen as loyal to Mugabe.

He “can be counted on to do Mugabe's bidding,” a leaked US diplomatic cable dating from 2009 said.

His Ndebele roots made him useful in checking the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in Matabeleland, a western region where the MDC enjoys strong support.

While he was sometimes mooted as a successor to Mugabe, few believe he had a real shot at taking the top post.

His appointment was the culmination of a political journey that began in the early 1960s, when he joined the Zimbabwe African People's Union, a pro independence movement, which later became part of Mugabe's Zanu-PF.

The US embassy in Harare expressed its condolences, saying he played “an important role in shaping the course of Zimbabwean history.”

“Whether as a teacher, a politician, an advocate for Zimbabwe's independence, or as a public servant, Vice President Nkomo was a patriot who dedicated his life to Zimbabwe's sovereignty and prosperity,” the embassy said in a statement. - Sapa-AFP

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