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The BBC's Ben Brown
"He masterminded the invasion of hundreds of white owned farms"
 real 56k

The BBC's Joseph Winter
"There will be a lot of factionalism over who will take over what is now a very key role"
 real 28k

Assistant Editor Daily News William Saidi
"He used any method at all to get his message across"
 real 28k

Monday, 4 June, 2001, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Mugabe henchman dies
Chenjerai Hunzvi
Hunzvi: Reported to have had cerebral malaria
The leader of Zimbabwe's war veterans, Chenjerai Hunzvi, has died in in hospital in the capital, Harare.

The controversial MP, who spearheaded the invasion of white-owned farms last year, was a staunch supporter of President Robert Mugabe.

State media confirmed his death a few hours ago, following days of rumours, but did not say what he died from.

The 51-year-old collapsed last month in a hotel in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city.

Since then self-styled war veterans had stood guard outside his hospital room.

Zimbabwe's leading independent newspaper said that he was suffering from "suspected cerebral malaria".

The AP news agency said that in recent weeks, Mr Hunzvi, a Polish-trained medical doctor, had shown signs of disorientation and rapid weight loss.

'Blow'

His trademarks were violence and inflammatory rhetoric, and his nom de guerre was Hitler - which he said he used during the liberation struggle, 20 years ago.

There have been suggestions though, that like most of his young followers he did not fight in that war.

Correspondents say his death is a severe blow to President Mugabe's ruling party.

truck
Mr Hunzvi spearheaded occupations of white-owned farms
The government is already reeling from the recent deaths of two ministers in seperate car crashes.

Employment Minister Border Gezi and Defence Minister Moven Mahachi, one of the president's most loyal aides, were both declared national heroes and buried with full military honors.

Mr Hunzvi led militant ruling party supporters in the invasion of more than 1,700 farms, accusing white farmers of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

He was elected as an MP last year, following a violent election campaign in which more than 30 opposition supporters died.

Earlier this year, the War Veterans Association switched its attention to urban businesses, demanding money off employers, under the guise of trying to settle labour disputes.

Presidential elections are scheduled for next year, with President Mugabe expecting to face a stong challenge from the MDC.

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See also:

08 May 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe's urban terror
18 May 01 | Africa
More Zimbabwe 'war vets' arrested
17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
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