, HARARE, July 30 – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe\’s sister and political ally Sabina Mugabe has died at age 80 after years of failing health, state media reported.
Mugabe\’s younger sister died early on Thursday, after complaining of abdominal pains earlier in the week. She suffered a stroke in 1995, which damaged part of her brain, the president told mourners at State House, according to the Herald newspaper.
"Doctors said one-third of her brain had been damaged. Physically she would appear well, but mentally she became somehow confused," Mugabe said.
"In the family, although we are full of sorrow, we are consoled that practically all our friends and comrades are with us."
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe\’s erstwhile rival who is now part of a strained unity government, joined the minister, judges and security chiefs who mourned late Thursday at State House, the paper said.
Born on September 29, 1929, Sabina Mugabe rode on her brother\’s political coattails, joining the nationalist struggle against the white-minority Rhodesian government.
She became a member of the central committee of Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, which has ruled in different forms since independence in 1980.
She retired from active politics in 2008 after serving as a member of parliament for her home constituency of Zvimba south from 1985 to 2005.
She is survived by four sons.
ZANU-PF\’s top decision-making body the Politburo declared her a national heroine and she will be buried on Sunday at a shrine for heroes of Zimbabwe\’s independence struggle.
At 86, Mugabe is Africa\’s oldest leader. He has already indicated that he is ready to run in the next elections, expected within two years.