afrol News, 4 June - The leader of Zimbabwe's self-styled war veterans, 51-year-old Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, has died in a Harare hospital. The death cause is not known yet, but assumed to have been cerebral malaria. Hunzvi was the main responsible behind Zimbabwe's farm occupations and physical attacks on the opposition, leaving many killed.
According to press reports from the Zimbabwean capital Harare, Hunzvi died in Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital. He was admitted to the unit at midnight on Wednesday and died this night. His death has been confirmed by state media.
Chenjerai Hunzvi, known as "Hitler", became the symbol of Zimbabwe's fast road into chaos in the country and in the international press. He spearheaded a violent campaign by black Zimbabweans to take back land considered to have been illegally taken by whites.
By rushing the "land reform" President Mugabe had promised for 20 years, he became a popular hero within militant landless Zimbabweans. He was made leader of the self-styled War Veterans Association, many of its members obviously being too young to have participated in the liberation war against the racist Rhodesia regime of ex-President Ian Smith.
The "land reform" led by Hunzvi's "war vets" and supported by the radicalised government of President Robert Mugabe in practical terms have meant land occupations. More than 1,700 productive farms, belonging to white farmers, have been occupied by the mostly unskilled "war vets", and land has been shared out between Hunzvi's followers and Mugabe's party colleagues. Real landless peasants were not regarded if not turning militant. For the last months, Hunzvi's "war vets" also have occupied foreign and national companies.
These illegal occupations have threatened the economic fundament of Zimbabwe, leading to dramatic production cuts and a total lack of confidence from foreign investors. Hunzvi's many enemies say he has lead Zimbabwe into ruins.
The "war vets" leader also has used his power politically. During and after the year 2000 elections, his followers have intimidated, attacked and killed at least 30 politicians of the MDC opposition, which is calling for land reforms carried through in an orderly way. The "war vets'" intimidation campaign, approved by President Mugabe, probably cost the MDC its victory in the election. Hunzvi himself was elected into parliament for the ruling party, ZANU-PF.
Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi therefore died with more enemies than friends, and leaves behind a deeply polarised Zimbabwean society.
Analysts in Harare say his death is a severe blow to President Mugabe's ZANU-PF. The government only recently lost two of its more prominent ministers in separate car accidents. "We heard the news of Dr Hunzvi's death with shock," ZANU-PF's secretary for administration, Emmerson Mnangagwa today stated. "It is a blow to parliament and the party and the war veterans' association."
Two weeks ago, Hunzvi collapsed at a hotel in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, and was rushed to Galen House Clinic, according to the Zimbabwean 'Daily News'. He was then referred to United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), where tests showed he had been struck down by a bout of cerebral malaria. After being transferred to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, he was discharged on Tuesday, only to be re-admitted the following day.