Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister and retired military general whose death was announced on Wednesday, played a key role in a notorious massacre in the early 1980s.

The killings in south-western Zimbabwe were ordered by former President Robert Mugabe in a crackdown against his opponents. Up to 20,000 civilians are feared to have died.

Mr Shiri was the commander of the feared fifth brigade, a North Korean trained crack unit, that was responsible for the operation.

Many believe the government has done too little to bring closure to the affected families. There have been no prosecutions or public apology.

Army officials who were involved in the operation have over the years been promoted to government positions.

Mr Shiri later played a key role in the removal of Mr Mugabe from power in 2017.

In a condolence message, President Emmerson Mnanagwa described the former air chief marshal as a long time friend, a true patriot who devoted his life to liberation and service of his country.