Nkomo’s brain tumour

Vice President John Nkomo has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, officials and family sources said this week.

John Nkomo
John Nkomo

An enormous force in Zimbabwean politics for the past decade, 77-year-old Nkomo is one of President Robert Mugabe's top aides alongside Joyce Mujuru.

The veteran politician, who was a senior official in founding nationalist Joshua Nkomo's Zapu before its merger with Mugabe's Zanu (PF) in the 1980s, is seen by many as an efficient administrator, and a temperamental leader.

South African doctors have allegedly conducted a battery of tests, including a biopsy, and identified a cancerous mass on the top left portion of his brain as the cause of his recent seizure.

The news sent shockwaves across Zimbabwe, particularly Matalebeleland where he is held in high esteem. Many of his colleagues have been shaken by the news, although a family source expressed hope for a full recovery.

"He is undergoing a course of treatment that includes combinations of various forms of radiation and chemotherapy," said a close family source.

She described Nkomo as "in good overall condition … up and walking at his Milton Park home… in good spirits and full of energy".

An official in his State office added that despite hair loss and loss of weight, Nkomo has remained upbeat.

The prognosis is uncertain with some concern that the vice president may be unable to complete the final years of the GNU.

An official in Nkomo’s office, who requested anonymity, said the vice president had given no thought to retirement. The confidant asserted: "It’s not even an option."

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