Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister and retired military Maj-Gen Sibusiso “SB” Moyo, 61, succumbed to Covid-19 early on Wednesday.
Information, publicity and broadcasting services acting minister Jenfan Muswere said: “I can confirm that minister SB Moyo has died.”
The government is expected to issue a full statement later.
Moyo is the third government minister to succumb to Covid-19 since the pandemic hit the country in March.
He had a known kidney problem that kept him out of work for long periods as he sought regular dialysis.
Moyo, a career soldier, was married to Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo.
He was also a key player in Zimbabwe’s political power matrix and sat on boards of companies in which the military has interests in mining, telecommunications and media.
His first public appearance was on national television announcing the coup that toppled late president Robert Mugabe in November 2017.
His “situation has moved to another level” speech was followed by tankers rolling into Harare as Mugabe was placed under house arrest, while his allies – including Prof Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew – fled the country.
Covid-19 deaths in Zimbabwe reached 60 a day on January 18, with a recovery rate of 63.2%, according to the ministry of health and childcare.
Co-ordinator of the Covid-19 national response, Dr Agnes Mahomva, has warned Zimbabweans that complacency will account for more deaths because people are not taking the 30-day lockdown, now in its 15th day, seriously.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has cut short his annual leave to preside over state funerals due to high-profile deaths that include minister of state for Manicaland Ellen Gwaradzimba, founding nationalist Moton Malianga, and Zimbabwe’s first black reserve bank governor, Kombo Moyana.