Simon Vengayi Muzenda, a vice president of Zimbabwe, died on Sept. 20 from a kidney ailment. He was 80.
The former teacher and carpenter rose to power in 1980 when he and other rebel leaders won Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain. Although he was often mocked for his lack of political savvy, Muzenda became a loyal aide and adviser to President Robert G. Mugabe.
A co-founder of the ZANU-PF party, Muzenda served as foreign minister and deputy vice president before becoming one of the nation’s two vice presidents in the mid-1980s. The remaining vice president, Joseph Msika, remains in power.
Muzenda’s plan to seize the last of the white-owned farms in Zimbabwe and redistribute the farmland to black citizens was placed on hold when he took ill last year. He was further stymied by the European Union’s decision to place him on a list of Zimbabwean officials banned from foreign travel. His overseas assets were also frozen.