BULAWAYO – Former Cabinet minister and Zanu PF provincial chairman for Bulawayo province Professor Callistus Ndlovu has died.

Ndlovu died in South Africa on Wednesday, according to Elifasi Mashaba, the party’s provincial secretary for administration.

He was 83.

Ndlovu, a one-time board chairman of NetOne, was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment in a South African hospital.

Ndlovu first joined the government when then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe invited some PF-Zapu officials into his government in 1982.

Ndlovu’s first assignment was Minister of Construction, before he was moved to Minister of Mines in 1984.

That same year, he defected from PF-Zapu to Zanu PF and was appointed Zanu PF chairman for Matabeleland North.

A teacher by profession, having been educated in Lesotho, Ndlovu was detained by the white colonial government in 1967. On his release, he left on a fellowship and studied political science at New York University.

He later became an associate professor of history and political science at Hofstra University in New York, during which time he served as Zapu’s chief representative at the United Nations between 1973 and 1979.

He worked as an industrial relations manager for chemicals firm Union Carbide in New York until 1981, before returning to Zimbabwe.

Ndlovu crossed swords with his PF-Zapu comrades in 1984 when, after having defected to Zanu, he was quoted in a newspaper describing PF-Zapu, the party of Joshua Nkomo, as a “dead donkey”.

His comments were never forgotten, nor forgiven, and he was routinely booed during public appearances in Matabeleland, where PF-Zapu enjoyed most of its support.

Nkomo’s decision to collapse PF-Zapu in 1987 to form one party with Zanu – Zanu PF – caused more political woe for Ndlovu who found himself without a political base in Matabeleland and he finally veered into a political wilderness.

He returned to head Zanu PF Bulawayo province in 2017 after Mugabe’s ouster in a military coup.

Zanu PF Bulawayo province is set to request the party’s politburo to confer Ndlovu with the honour of national hero.