HARARE – The late vice president Joseph Msika’s widow, Maria, has died.
She was 89.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo confirmed her passing, saying it was a great loss to the nation and to the late vice president’s family.
“Sad, sad, very sad indeed,” Khaya Moyo said of her death.
“It’s a tragedy to the family and to the nation. The party regarded her as a mother figure and she contributed immensely to the liberation of this country by way of giving all the support to the late vice president Msika who was incarcerated on several occasions. She managed to take care of the children under very difficult circumstances.
“And of course she was very courageous, very humble and a very warm person. She was born in Botswana but she was never a tribalist or regionalist, she was a true pan Africanist.
“So she has left a legacy of service to the nation and, as far as I am concerned, such people never die, they depart for higher responsibility. We shall miss her immensely,” Khaya Moyo said.
Msika’s widow, who was in-and-out of hospital on countless occasions, has been unwell for some time.
Over a decade ago, she suffered a serious stroke and has never regained her full health ever since.
There were also claims that in the twilight of her life, the ruling party was not doing enough to look after the spouse of the late vice president.
But Khaya Moyo insisted yesterday that the ruling Zanu PF party did not, at any time, abandon its responsibilities towards her.
“Her husband was the vice president and naturally the party could not just look aside. So the party played a significant role in terms of her care,” Khaya Moyo said.
She was born in 1928 in Botswana, and married the late nationalist in 1946.
Her death comes eight years after her husband’s departure in 2009.
The estate of the late vice president who served for almost a decade as President Robert Mugabe’s deputy was still under dispute at the time of her death.
At one point, the “smoking gun”, as the late Msika was affectionately known, served along with Simon Muzenda as Mugabe’s two deputies, until the latter’s death in 2003.
Ironically, Muzenda’s wife, Moudy, died exactly a month ago on August 22, aged 88. She was buried at the National Heroes Acre.
All the wives of Zimbabwe’s past deputy presidents have been buried at the national shrine, among them Moudy Muzenda and Johanna Mafuyana Nkomo, wife of the late “Father Zimbabwe”, Joshua Nkomo, who died aged 76 in June 2003.
Johanna had lost her husband in July 1999.
Mugabe’s first wife, Sarah Francesca – popularly known as Sally – was also buried at the national shrine following her death in 1992.
While Zanu PF is still to deliberate on the burial status for Msika’s widow, precedence would dictate that she may not be treated any different from the wives of the other former vice presidents who were accorded the highest honour by Zanu PF.
Mourners are gathered at Msika’s Highlands home.