HARARE, August 14 ‑ A Zimbabwean minister, who last year spent a lengthy period in hospital after being reportedly poisoned at a Zanu PF conference, has died.
Shuvai Ben Mahofa, who was Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister, died in the early hours of Monday morning after being hospitalised at the weekend.
Zimbabwe Information Minister, Christopher Mushohwe, confirmed the development, saying Mahofa collapsed and was rushed to a hospital, where she died.
“Minister Mahofa collapsed and was rushed to Makurira Hospital, where she died at around 4am this morning,” Mushohwe was quoted as saying by State media.
Mahofa, who was 76, had been ill for quite some time after being reportedly poisoned at a Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls in December 2015.
After the suspected poisoning, she was admitted to a South African hospital.
She was appointed to the post in February 2015, replacing Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who had been relieved of his duties after being accused of displaying conduct inconsistent with his prescribed duties and functions.
Mahofa’s death comes hard on the heels of another suspected food poisoning case in the ruling party, where Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa left a Zanu PF rally venue in a huff at the weekend, as his boss, President Robert Mugabe, was addressing the gathering in Gwanda, a small town about 460km south of Harare.
Mnangagwa is said to have started “vomiting blood” a few minutes after Mugabe had started speaking.
A long-time ally of Mugabe, Mnangagwa left in an ambulance and was taken to Gwanda Hospital, but later flown to a military base in Gweru, where he was attended to.
Reports said he was flown to neighbouring South Africa for medical attention on Sunday morning after his health had “further deteriorated”.
He was said to have left at 10:20am from Manyame Air Base in the capital, Harare, on his way to Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg.
The VP was taken ill after he reportedly complained of feeling dizzy following a fruit juice he had had during the rally.
Zimbabwe’s minister of state for Masvingo, Shuvai Ben Mahofa, has collapsed and died, the State-owned newspaper Herald reported on its online site on Monday.
“Minister Mahofa collapsed and was rushed to Makurira Hospital, where she died around 4 am this morning,” minister of information, media and broadcasting services, Dr. Chris Mushowe was quoted as saying.
Two years ago NewsDay, a privately owned newspaper, reported that the then 74-year-old rather rotund Mahofa could not walk up the stairs and as a result her office had to be moved to a lower level.
“The minister of state for Masvingo’s office at Benjamin Burombo House is being moved from the second to the ground floor because the new incumbent, Shuvai Mahofa, cannot climb the stairs owing to ill health and old age,” reported the newspaper.
Mahofa’s death on Monday coincides with Zimbabwe’s delayed celebrations for Heroes Day, normally held on the 12th of August which fell at the weekend. President Robert Mugabe, 93, is expected to officiate at the ceremonies and is likely to declare Mahofa a national hero.
The veteran politician, who was “a war collaborator” during the liberation struggle, is survived by four children and 27 grandchildren.