Perrance Shiri

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Perrance Shiri
Air Marshal Perrance Shiri.jpg
Shiri in 2014
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement
In office
30 November 2017 27 July 2020
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
DeputyDavis Marapira [1]
Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe
In office
1992 7 December 2017
President Robert Mugabe
Preceded by Josiah Tungamirai
Succeeded byShebba Shumbayaonda (Acting)
Personal details
Bigboy Samson Chikerema

(1955-01-11)11 January 1955
Gweru, Southern Rhodesia
Died29 July 2020(2020-07-29) (aged 65)
Harare, Zimbabwe
Alma mater Women’s University in Africa [ citation needed ]
Royal College of Defence Studies
AwardsGrand Commander of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit [2]
Military service
Nickname(s)Perrance Shiri
Allegiance Flag of Zimbabwe.svg Zimbabwe
Branch/service Air Force of Zimbabwe
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands Fifth Brigade
Air Force of Zimbabwe

Perrance Shiri (born Bigboy Samson Chikerema; 11 January 1955 [3] [4]  29 July 2020) was a Zimbabwean air officer and government official who served as Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement in the Cabinet of Zimbabwe from 1 December 2017 until his death on 29 July 2020. He was the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and member of the Joint Operations Command which exerts day-by-day control over Zimbabwe's government. [5] [6]


Perrance Shiri was a cousin of former President Robert Mugabe. [7] He called himself "Black Jesus", [8] because according to an anonymous claim on BBC Panorama documentary "The Price of Silence", he "could determine your life like Jesus Christ. He could heal, raise the dead, whatever. So he claimed to be like that because he could say if you live or not." [9]

On 30 November 2017, Shiri was appointed Minister of Agriculture by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. On 18 December he was promoted from Air Marshal to Air Chief Marshal upon retirement.


Military service

From 1983 to 1984, the Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade, under Shiri's command, was responsible for a reign of terror in Matabeleland. During the slaughter, thousands of civilians were killed and thousands more were tortured. Despite this, in 1986, Shiri was granted a place at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. [10]

In 1992, Shiri was appointed as the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, taking over from Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai. [6]

Shiri was in command of the Zimbabwean troops at the start of the Second Congo War. It was Shiri who decided that the Zimbabwean contingent would defend N'Djili and its airport. This was in order to maintain an air route for resupply and reinforcements if needed. [11]

In the late-1990s and early-2000s, Shiri was reported to have organised farm invasions by war veterans. [12] In 2002, in response to the subsequent food shortage, Mugabe dispatched Shiri to South Africa to purchase maize. This undertaking was backed by a credit note for the equivalent of £17 million from the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi. [7]

With the Mugabe government facing increasing problems, the Zimbabwean press reported in February 2007 that Shiri was regularly attending General Solomon Mujuru’s unofficial meetings with other senior military commanders and some political leaders. These meetings had discussed forcing Mugabe to the polls in 2008 with a view to his replacement as president. [13]

In 2008 some Zimbabwean lawyers and opposition politicians from Mutare claimed that Shiri managed military assaults on illegal diggers in the diamond mines in the east of Zimbabwe. [14]

2008 election

In the days before the 2008 Zimbabwean presidential election Shiri, along with other Zimbabwean Defence chiefs, held a press conference where they stated that defence and security forces had been deployed across the country to maintain order. In a remark aimed against the Movement for Democratic Change, the defence chiefs stated that it would be a criminal act for anyone to declare himself the winner of the election. They maintained that such a statement must only be made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. [15]

Sanctions against Shiri

In 2002 the European Union barred then Air Marshal Shiri from entering the EU [16] and on 6 March 2003, George W. Bush ordered the blocking of any of Shiri's property in the United States. [4]

Assassination attempt

Shiri was ambushed on 13 December 2008 while driving to his farm. According to police, he was accosted by unknown people who shot at his car. Thinking one of his tyres had burst, he got out and was shot in the arm. [17] It has been speculated that the assassination attempt was a response to Shiri's attacks on illegal diamond miners in 2008 or because of his role in Matabeleland in the 1980s. [18]

In October 2013, Shiri's son, Titus Takudzwa Chikerema, died at the age of 21. [19]

2017 coup and ministerial appointment

Shiri was influential in orchestrating the 2017 Zimbabwean coup d'état which removed Mugabe from power. [20] On 30 November 2017, Shiri was appointed Minister of Agriculture by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. On 18 December he was promoted from Air Marshal to Air Chief Marshal upon retirement.


Shiri died on 29 July 2020, after being hospitalized the day before. [21] He was 65; local news sources say death was due to complications from COVID-19. [21] [22] Mnangagwa described Shiri as a “longtime friend and colleague” and “a true patriot.” [23]

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  1. "Mnangagwa Appoints Coup Plotters to Key Ministries in Recycled Mugabe Cabinet". Voice of America.
  2. Orders, Decorations and Medals - Zimbabwe
  4. 1 2 US Code Collection - Executive Order No. 13288, Cornell Law School . Retrieved on 31 March 2007.
  5. Blair, David (22 June 2008). "Zimbabwean generals have 'taken Robert Mugabe's power'". Retrieved 14 July 2008.
  6. 1 2 Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Ministry of Defence. Retrieved on 31 March 2007.
  7. 1 2 "The air marshal, Gaddafi and the big grain buy-up". 8 August 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  8. St. John, Lauren (2007). Rainbow's End: A Memoir of Childhood, War, and an African Farm. Scribner. p. 234.
  9. "The Price of Silence", BBC Panorama , 10 March 2002
  10. "British Invitation to Mugabe's Butcher". 8 March 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  12. "Panorama reveals what British Government knew about Mugabe's worst crimes". 10 March 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  13. "Mujuru plots Mugabe's ouster". 23 February 2007. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2007.
  14. McGreal, Chris (11 December 2008). "Bodies pile up as Mugabe wages war on diamond miners". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  15. Nkatazo, Lebo (28 March 2008). "Zimbabwe's defence chiefs issue threats on election eve". Retrieved 31 March 2008.
  16. "EU targets the henchmen". 18 February 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2007.
  17. "Zimbabwe air force head 'wounded'", BBC News
  18. McGreal, Chris (16 December 2008). "Zimbabwe regime blames Mugabe ally 'assassination attempt' on opposition". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  21. 1 2 "Zimbabwe minister Shiri, who helped plot Mugabe ouster, dies at 65". Reuters. 29 July 2020. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  22. Mutsaka, Farai (29 July 2020). "Ex-general whose brigade carried out Zimbabwe massacres dies". Associated Press. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
Military offices
Preceded by
Josiah Tungamirai
Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe
Succeeded by
Elson Moyo
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Made
As Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation,
and Irrigation Development
Minister of Lands, Agriculture,
and Rural Resettlement

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Douglas Mombeshora
As Minister of Lands and
Rural Resettlement