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Obituaries in the News

September 21, 2003

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ Vice President Simon Muzenda, a longtime loyal aide of Zimbabwe’s autocratic leader Robert Mugabe, died Saturday, state radio reported. He was 80.

Muzenda, a one-time carpenter, was one of the least educated politicians in the ruling elite but was rewarded for his loyalty with high office that brought wealth and status. He was often ridiculed because of his humble origins and sometimes clumsy politicking.

Though Muzenda’s death left Mugabe without a trusted associate, it was not expected to change the political landscape in the troubled southern African country.

For his political activism against colonial rule, Muzenda spent most of the decade 1962-72 in prison or under colonial restriction orders curtailing his movements.

He fled into exile and joined Mugabe in the guerrilla war against the white government of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then known.

After independence, Mugabe, then prime minister, appointed him deputy prime minister and foreign minister. Mugabe became executive president in 1987, naming Muzenda his first vice president.

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