Zimbabwe Vice President Joseph Msika Now Confirmed Dead, Tense Negotiations With Family Start

Vice-President Msika (centre), who died this morning at West End Hospital. Details of his funeral and burial are now proving to be a sticky affair.

Harare, Zimbabwe 05 August 2009

Less than five minutes ago, I spoke to a son of the Vice President Msika who confirmed that the Vice President died early this morning.

State broadcaster ZBC is also confirming the death, saying the President had visited Msika yesterday at West End Hospital, where he was on life-support, confirming the report I gave you yesterday.

Mourners have already gathered at the VPs home in Mandara.

The son tells me that since last week they have been getting reports and messages saying the VP was dead and that yesterday, when it was mentioned during a routine government meeting that the VP was on life support, some in government took the gamble to leak the fact that he was already dead.

Meantime, it emerges according to inside sources that there is a stand-off between the Msika family and Mugabe's government over the burial arrangements for the VP.

As I write, the Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda and a lady who acts as the chief of protocol for the president's office are at the VPs home to try and negotiate details of the burial.

Mugabe wants Msika's burial delayed so that he can be buried on Heroes Day at Heroes Acre on 10 August, five days from now.

Some family members are of the opinion that the VP should, even if he was to be buried at Heroes Acre, not have to wait for Mugabe's spectacle at the National Shrine on 10 August. Mugabe routinely delivers searing speeches against his enemies and detractors at the event.

This is exactly what some family members want to avoid.

Mugabe, who told his Politubro this morning of the death, is yet to make an official announcement of the death. He is waiting for the negotiations with the family to be concluded so that he can also annouce funeral arrangements.

Although there is no doubt whatsoever that he will be buried at Heroes Acre, it is the timing that now remains to be decided.


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