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Ex-Minister Linked to Corruption to Get Hero’s Burial

April 22, 1989

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ A former government leader who died of poisoning after resigning in the midst of a corruption scandal will be buried at a national shrine for revolutionary heroes, officials said Saturday.

Maurice Nyagumbo, who was the government’s senior minister for political affairs, will be entombed Sunday at Heroes’ Acre on the outskirts of Harare, a government spokesman said.

Nyagumbo, 64, died at Harare’s main hospital on Thursday from poisoning. No details were available, but police sources said they were investigating whether he committed suicide.

He was a founder of the party of socialist President Robert Mugabe, which controls the government as the country’s only legal party. Nyagumbo ranked third in its hierarchy.

Nyagumbo, the longest serving political detainee in the former colony of Rhodesia, spent 21 years in jail for opposition to white rule. After Rhodesia became the independent nation of Zimbabwe in 1980, Nyagumbo held key posts in the Cabinet, the 15-member Politburo and the ruling party’s Central Committee.

But he resigned his government and party posts April 14 after he was found by a presidential inquiry to be involved in a racket involving illegal sales of vehicles. Investigators found he abused his position by acquiring 38 vehicles, mostly for friends, from a state assembly plant.

Nyagumbo denied wrongdoing but stepped down.

Despite the scandal, the government spokesman, who commented on condition of anonymity, said Mugabe declared Nyagumbo a national hero.

″His death has robbed us of a man whose record of revolutionary performance is second to none,″ the president said Friday.

Nyagumbo’s body was to lie in state until burial.

The revolutionary shrine honors about 27,000 Zimbabweans who died in the seven-year guerrilla war that led to independence.

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