Former Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister and independence war hero Dumiso Dabengwa has died aged 79, his Foundation has confirmed.
Dabengwa, popularly known as the ‘Black Russian’ because of his role as an intelligence chief during the fight for Independence, died in Nairobi en route to Harare.
He had travelled to India for treatment and was on his way back home.
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa paid glowing tribute to Dabengwa for his role in the country's Independence struggle.
“I had huge respect for Dumiso and his contribution to Zimbabwe: As a liberation fighter, a longstanding Minister of Home Affairs and as a man. My deepest condolences are with his friends and family at this sad time,” Mr Mnangagwa tweeted.
During last year’s elections, Dabengwa had supported opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Nelson Chamisa.
The party too sent its message of condolence.
“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 2009, 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At the time of his death, he had largely withdrawn from public and political life focusing on his justice campaigns through his Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation.