Muzariri died at the private St Annes hospital in Harare. He is said to have died of cancer, according to official sources.
The Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr. Ray Ndhlukula said burial arrangements will be announced in due course.
The CIO deputy director-general, was one of the intelligence chiefs who loomed largely in the shadows, unknown to the public. Muzariri, who hailed from Mashonaland Central, is scheduled to be declared a national hero.
He headed the Internal Division of the CIO before he was promoted to the position he held at the time of his death. The Information ministry declined to comnment on the matter, referring enquiries to the Department of the President. The Department of the President referred the matter to the CIO, where calls were not being picked up.
It is understood chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Ray Ndlukula has been tasked with handling the matter.
He could not be immedaietly reached for comment. But mourners were said to be gathered at his home in Rock Valley.
The spymaster, who reportedly died of a liver ailment on Sunday night, directed the country’s intelligence network for nearly three decades. He rose through the ranks of the dreaded agency to become deputy head to Happyton Bonyongwe, the director-general.
Unlike most senior operatives who joined the CIO in the 1990’s, Muzariri was one of the few former ZANLA combatants to join the organisation soon after independence. During the war of liberation, he was an intelligence officer for the ZANLA forces.
Despite working under the radar for most of his life, Muzariri’s name remains synonymous with the Gukurahundi massacres in the Matebeleland provinces. Known in CIO circles as a ruthless operator Muzariri, together with army Colonel Perence Shiri (now the Airforce commander) presided over the suppression of the Ndebele people by the North Korean trained 5th Brigade, in the southern regions of Zimbabwe.
‘Generally he remained out of the public eye and shunned the publicity but he was well known in the security services for his brutality. He committed some of the most serious atrocities during the Gukurahundi massacres,’ a former CIO operative now based in London said.
He told us Muzariri was one of the officers who led public executions, often forcing victims to dig their own graves in front of family and villagers.
‘Ask anyone who survived the massacres and they will tell you, Muzariri was bad news. His CIO operatives, with the help of the 5th Brigade, would routinely round up villagers and march them at gun point to a central place. There they would be forced to sing Shona songs praising ZANU PF, at the same time being beaten with sticks. These gatherings usually ended with public executions,’ another source told us.
Lately Muzariri was into farming and was a neighbour to Reward Marufu, brother to Grace Mugabe who died in August last year at his farm outside Bindura, in Mashonaland central province. Both grabbed their farms at the beginning of the controversial land redistribution exercise.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joice Mujuru has described the late Muzariri as a patriot par excellence.
Mujuru was speaking when she paid her condolences to the Muzariri family on Monday evening at their Borrowdale home in Harare.
She said the bond they had as former combatants in the war of liberation is deeper than family bonds as it was a bond that was forged through blood, adding that the late Muzariri was really a comrade in arms whom she shared the trenches with in the struggle for liberation.