Harare — Vice President Joseph Wilfred Msika has died.
He was 85.
Cde Msika, who was also Zanu-PF's Second Secretary, died at West End Hospital in Harare yesterday morning.
The Zanu-PF Politburo immediately sat at the party's headquarters in the capital and unanimously conferred Cde Msika with national hero status.
He will be buried at the National Heroes Acre on Monday, coincidentally the day the nation commemorates Heroes Day.
Addressing mourners at Cde Msika's house in Mandara, Zanu-PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa said: "The Politburo met today (yesterday) and agreed that there won't be any discussion on his status. We have agreed that he be accorded hero status and be buried at the National Heroes Acre."
Cde Mutasa said more information would be made available after a meeting between the family and officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Msika family also requested that VP Msika's body be taken to Bulawayo where he cut his political teeth for farewell.
The body will also be taken to his rural home in Chiweshe.
The late Vice President was born on December 6, 1923, in Chiweshe communal lands in Mazowe District and attended Howard and Mt Selinda institutes where he trained as a carpentry teacher.
He later joined Usher Institute as a teacher and while there, he began to actively participate in nationalist politics.
In his quest for the country's freedom, Cde Msika worked with other nationalists such as the late Cde Masotsha Ndlovu and Cde Benjamin Burombo.
Around 1944-45 he joined the Rhodesia Textile and Allied Workers' Union.
It was during this period that he met fellow hero of the struggle, Father Zimbabwe, the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
In 1957, Cde Msika was elected national treasurer of the newly-formed African National Congress, and after it was banned he was made secretary for youth in its successor, Zapu.
He became a member of the National Democratic Party in 1961 and was elected a councillor.
His political activities saw the racist Rhodesian regime detaining him at Khami Maximum Security, Selukwe and Marandellas prisons between 1959 and 1961.
It was during this time that he met President Mugabe, who had just returned from his teaching job in Ghana and was visiting nationalists who had been arrested by the oppressive settler regime.
In 1963, Cde Msika was elected Zapu secretary for youth affairs before becoming secretary for external affairs of the People's Caretaker Party after the NDP was banned.
He was arrested and detained at Gonakudzingwa in 1964, where he spent four years, before being transferred to Camp 5 from 1967 to 1974.
On his release, he flew to Zambia with other nationalist stalwarts to meet Frontline Heads of State and Government before taking part in a series of summits and meetings leading to the 1979 ceasefire.
He served as an African National Council central committee member before becoming Zapu secretary between 1976 and 1984.
The late hero was a delegate at the Lancaster House Conference in London in 1979.
At Independence Cde Msika was elected a Senator and appointed Minister of Natural Resources and Water Development up to 1982.
He served as Zapu vice president from 1984 to 1987.
Cde Msika was elected Member of Parliament for Pelandaba in 1985 and appointed Minister of Public Construction and National Housing.
In 1987 he was among the Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu leaders who signed the December 22 Unity Accord.
Cde Msika was appointed Senior Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development in the President's Office in 1988; a post he held until 1995.
Thereafter, he served as Minister without Portfolio and Zanu-PF national chairman.
President Mugabe later appointed Cde Msika to chair the Land Acquisition Committee.
Following the death of Vice President Nkomo on July 1, 1999, Cde Msika was elevated to Vice President and sworn into office on December 23 of that year.
Cde Msika did not take part in the 2000 and 2005 elections and was appointed a Member of the House of Assembly before being appointed to the Senate in August last year.
On October 13 last year, he was sworn in as Vice President in the inclusive Government along with Cde Joice Mujuru.
He is survived by his wife Amai Maria and three children.