John Landa Nkomo
Date of Birth: 22/08/1934
Place of Birth: Tsholotsho
Career: member African National Congress, 1958-59; joined National Democratic Party, 1960; joined the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, 1961-; arrested and detained at Gonakudzingwa for two years, 1966-68; joined the African National Council becoming deputy secretary-general, 1971; attended Geneva Conference as part of Joshua Nkomo’s delegation, 1976; seriously injured in parcel bomb that killed Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, 1977; Member of Parliament, Matabeleland North, 1980-1985; deputy Minister of Industry and Energy, 1981; Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office responsible to the Deputy Prime Minister, 1982-84; fired from government as one of only two remaining ZAPU members, 1984; Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho, 1985-1990 ; Minister of Labour, Manpower Planning and Social Welfare, 1988-1995; Member of Parliament for Bulawayo North, 1990-1995; re-elected Member of Parliament for Bulawayo North, 1995-2000; Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, 1995; Minister of Local Government and National Housing, 1997; Minister of Home Affairs, 2000; Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for Special Affairs, 2002; Speaker of Parliament, 2005-2008; Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, 2009; Vice-President, 2009 up till his death in January 2013.
Commentary: Prior to his appointment as Vice-President, following the death of John Msika in August 2009, Nkomo had sunk into political oblivion following the defeat of ZANU-PF in the 2008 polls which saw him being demoted from the powerful post of Speaker of Parliament to Minister of National Healing, a mediocre post he shared with two others, Sekai Holland of MDC-T and Gibson Sibanda of MDC-M. While the death of Msika propelled him to the top, this only fulfilled a personal ambition because he still had no political constituency of his own. Nkomo entirely relied on the benevolence of President Robert Mugabe. The1987 unity accord between ZANU-PF and ZAPU which stipulates that one of the Vice-Presidents has to come from the former ZAPU has also come in handy.
Once a very popular politician in his home constituency of Tsholotsho, Nkomo's political star was on the wane from 2000 when he had no constituency and relied on being appointed into Parliament by Mugabe. Then observers said that though he had displayed presidential ambitions and announced in 2006 that he intended to contest for the post, his ascent to the post of Vice-President was likely to be the highest he could ever achieve, since in Zimbabwe being elected to number two does not necessarily mean you can rise to number one. They said that, with his ailing health, the post of Vice-President might be the zenith of his political career. They were right.