Bulawayo Bureau — THE Matabeleland region has been plunged into mourning following the death of Vice President John Landa Nkomo yesterday. VP Nkomo (79) died at St Anne's Hospital in Harare after a long battle with cancer.
In separate interviews yesterday, Zanu-PF chairpersons for Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South provinces described VP Nkomo as a respected politician who would be missed by all Zimbabweans.
"Bulawayo as a province is shocked by the death of VP Nkomo. We have lost a political leader who always gave us guidance. We sympathise with the Nkomo family and the entire nation in this time of grief," said Cde Killian Sibanda, the party's chairman for Bulawayo.
Zanu-PF Matabeleland North provincial chairman Cde Richard Moyo said VP Nkomo was a distinguished veteran politician and his province was devastated by his death.
"We would like to send our condolence message on the passing on of VP Nkomo, a distinguished veteran politician," said Cde Moyo.
"The news of his death came at a time when we had a party meeting in Hwange today. The provincial co-ordinating committee quickly met and resolved to write to the national leadership requesting that VP Nkomo be accorded National Hero status.
"No one can doubt the remarkable work that VP Nkomo, who came from this province, did for the nation. He deserves this lofty status."
Matabeleland South Zanu-PF chairman Cde Andrew Langa said VP Nkomo was a beloved national figurehead.
"On behalf of Matabeleland South I would like to send my sincere condolences first to His Excellency President Mugabe who worked so closely with VP Nkomo.
"I also convey my condolence message to the Nkomo family and the nation as a whole for losing a beloved father," said Cde Langa.
"Zanu-PF has lost an admirable administrator who knew how to run the party above personal issues. VP Nkomo ran the party with no interests of his own.
"Matabeleland region as a whole is saddened by his death. The whole country will miss him. It will be difficult to replace him."
VP Nkomo's son, Jabulani said the Nkomo family was devastated by the death of their father whom he said was in a lot of pain.
"My father has rested. This time around it is not a rumour. He was in a lot of pain and died today at 12.05pm," said Mr Nkomo.
"For all this time he was recovering at home and only last night he developed some few complications. We quickly took cautionary measures by taking him to the hospital, but his condition deteriorated and he passed on in the afternoon."
Mr Nkomo said the family was still shocked by the passing on of their father and said consultations were being made with the State on the way forward.
"We are consulting with the elders and a delegation of some elders has been sent to tell Ugogo (VP Nkomo's mother) in Tsholotsho. We are sending the information to all relatives through our family system," he said.
Mr Nkomo said mourners in Bulawayo would be gathered at the family home, House Number 59 Muchbinding Road in Worringham.
He said the family would work closely with the State in making burial arrangements.
VP Nkomo's cousin, Mr Charles Mazibisa, who comes from Tsholotsho, also said the Matabeleland region as a whole had lost a dedicated leader who would be hard to replace.
"He made sure that he worked for his Tsholotsho community and we praise him for that. We have too many people who pretend to be leaders but most of them are clearly playing mind games with the people unlike the late VP Nkomo," said Mr Mazibisa.
He added that no one would fill the political gap left by VP Nkomo adding that already some political figures were jostling for his post.
Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Senator David Coltart via Facebook said:
"I am very sorry to hear through Reuters of the death of Vice President Landa John Nkomo. Although I have not had it confirmed I believe that Reuters would not release such a story without verifying it.
Although Vice President Nkomo was a member of a political party I clash with often I always had a very cordial personal relationship with VP Nkomo.
"In the last four years in Cabinet, we have been able to rekindle that friendship and I always found him a moderating influence in Cabinet.
"I last saw him when we opened a secondary school together in Tsholotsho last year, which has been built near the primary school where he went.
"We had a very pleasant day together and I am pleased that he was able to do this in the twilight of his life. I have attached a photograph of us together outside one of his old classroom blocks.
"I was very impressed with the dignified way in which he dealt with his illness. I will miss him in Cabinet. I convey my deepest sympathy to his family and political colleagues."
VP Nkomo was the third born of Mr Lufele Nkomo and his wife, Macitshi.