HIGHER Education Minister Stanislaus Mudenge has died aged 70.
Mudenge, who took sick leave several times over the last year, collapsed at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel in Masvingo where he was attending a conference for academics.
He was confirmed dead on admission at a hospital in the mother town.
On Tuesday, the frail-looking minister – famed for his verbosity – was guest of honour at the commissioning of St Patricks Hotel in Bulawayo.
In March, the Masvingo North MP suffered head injuries after being charged down by a rogue bull at his Chikore Farm in Masvingo. He spent several days at Harare’s West End Clinic.
The historian has been battling ill-health since 2010 when he suffered cardiac arrest and spent weeks in hospital.
Twice married, Mudenge’s first wife Kgogo died in 2001 and his second wife, Eunice, followed in 2004.
Mudenge’s ill-health previously triggered demands from students’ unions for him to stand aside.
Zimbabwe National Students Union president Tafadzwa Mugwadi said in 2010: “He has failed to attend to our plight because he is concentrating on his health issues and in the process he is underperforming in his ministry.”
As a public speaker, the former Foreign Affairs Minister who also served as ambassador to the United Nations took delight in decorating his speeches with big words.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at the Harare Polytechnic in 2010, Mudenge took a moment to deny media claims that students were prevented from writing exams for non-payment of fees.
“Such a claim is playing fandango dance with the facts,” he said. “It is based on a farrago of confusion which has created a phantasmagoria of conflicting images of dreamland on the minds of the public.”
Born on December 17, 1941, Mudenge attended Gaths Mine Lower Primary School, Gokomere Mission Upper Primary School before moving to Goromonzi High School in 1961.
He enrolled at the University of Rhodesia, where he studied history.
In 1968, he went for further studies at the University of York in England.
Between 1971 and 1980, he worked as senior lecturer and associate professor of African history at Foura Bay College in Sierra Leone.
From 1977 and 1980, he was Zanu PF’s secretary for external affairs in Lesotho.
At independence in 1980, Mudenge returned home and joined the government as Secretary for Foreign Affairs until 1985.
He served as Zimbabwe’s permanent representative to the United Nations between 1985 and 1990.
Between 1992 and 1995, he was Minister of Higher Education before moving to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the time of his death, he was the MP for Masvingo North and secretary for external relations in the Zanu PF politburo.