HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Sibusiso Busi Moyo, has died, the President’s Office announced on Wednesday. The cause was complications related to Covid-19. Mr Moyo was the fourth high-ranking official in Zimbabwe to succumb to the virus since the pandemic began.

“The late minister succumbed to Covid-19 in a local hospital,” said a brief statement from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office, which provided no further details.

58-year-old Moyo rose to fame as the face of the military coup that ended the nearly four-decade rule of former President Robert Mugabe in 2017. He was major general in the Zimbabwean Armed Forces at the time.

Recognition…Philimon Bulawayo / Reuters

“We want to make it clear that this is not a military takeover,” Moyo said on state television, reading a statement after the military commanded the national broadcaster. “What the Zimbabwean Defense Force is doing is pacifying a degenerating political, social and economic situation.”

After Mr. Mnangagwa’s election in 2018, Mr. Moyo swapped military clothing for a suit and scarf in the colors of the Zimbabwean flag, retired as a lieutenant general, and joined Mr. Mnangagwa’s cabinet with other military leaders.

In this new role, much of his work has been focused on revitalizing Zimbabwe’s tarnished international image. Mr Moyo has often criticized the sanctions imposed by the international community on Zimbabwe’s new elite. In one of his recent tweets, Mr. Moyo targeted the United States following the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill, describing it as “unprecedented scenes of chaos and politically motivated violence in Washington’s” Citadel of Democracy “.”

“Perhaps the moralizing and prescriptive tone towards others will change a little now,” he tweeted on January 9th.

Within the ruling Zanu-PF, Mr. Moyo represented the influential military faction, which consolidated its political power in the new dispensation.

Mr. Moyo was born in Mberengwa, a rural district in central Zimbabwe, in 1961. He is survived by his wife, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, Zimbabwe Supreme Court Justice and Chair of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, and their two children. (In an earlier version of this article, Mr. Moyo’s year of birth was incorrectly stated.)

Last week, Ellen Gwaradzimba, Minister of State for Manicaland Province, died as a result of Covid-19. That same week, Morton Malianga, a member of the ruling party’s highest decision-making body and former deputy finance minister, died from Covid-19. Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri also died of Covid-19 in July.

The South African nation has seen an increase in cases and deaths in Covid-19 since the beginning of this year. The Department of Health recorded 52 deaths and 783 new infections in 24 hours on Tuesday, forcing officials to issue a new lockdown, close shops and impose curfew. Zimbabwe has recorded a total of 28,675 cases and 825 deaths since the pandemic began.

Jeffrey Moyo reported from Harare and Lynsey Chutel from Johannesburg.

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