Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Mozambique succumbs to Covid-19

09 February 2021 - 14:08 By Lenin Ndebele
Nyikaramba is the fourth military general who led the putsch against Robert Mugabe to succumb to the virus. Stock photo.
Nyikaramba is the fourth military general who led the putsch against Robert Mugabe to succumb to the virus. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Ahmed Zaggoudi

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Mozambique, retired Maj-Gen Douglas Nyikayaramba, has died of Covid-19 complications.

Nyikayaramba, 64, was on leave when he died in Harare, becoming the fourth military general to lead the 2017 putsch against the late Robert Mugabe to succumb to the virus.

Presidency spokesperson George Charamba announced on Twitter: “I’m gutted to learn of the demise of Major General (Rtd) Nyikayaramba, our ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique. We have lost him to Covid-19. Yet another diplomat, commander, war veteran and patriot falls!”

Other military coup conspirators to die during the pandemic are foreign affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, agriculture minister Perrance Shiri and former prisons boss Paradzai Zimondi.

Like Moyo and Shiri, Nyikayaramba retired from active military service to take up civilian roles in the government as part of the spoils of the role played by the military in helping President Emmerson Mnangagwa into office.

But in Nyikayaramba's case, critics saw his retirement from the army as a “coup-proofing” mechanism by Mnangagwa. Nyikayaramba, an ally of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, was given a diplomatic post along with Brig-Gen Anselem Sanyatwe, who was commander of the coup on the ground. Sanyatwe is now ambassador to Tanzania.

While still in the army, Nyikayaramba was key in Mugabe’s controversial victory in 2002, as the CEO of the Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Commission, later replaced by the Zimbabwe Election Commission.

Mnangagwa has since recalled ambassador to the UN in New York Frederick Shava to take up the minister of foreign affairs post, left vacant after the death of Moyo.

Shava was last minister of state for political affairs under Mugabe in 1987 but was dismissed after the biggest scandal of the decade, dubbed "Willowgate", in which the political elite purchased cars from state-owned Willowvale Motor Industries before reselling them at double the market price.

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