Zimbabwean Vice President Joseph Msika, who served in President Robert Mugabe's government for two decades, died today at the age of 86, state radio reported.
No cause of death was immediately given. Msika had been treated on several occasion for an unspecified illness in neighboring South Africa.
State radio said Mugabe had announced Msika's death to the party's leadership.
Msika joined Zimbabwe's government in 1987 after a unity accord between Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and ZAPU, a party based in the west of the country. Msika was seen as someone who balanced tribal and regional interests in the Zimbabwean government.
ZAPU was accused of fighting an armed insurrection against Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
Msika was not a very high-profile leader and was never linked to factional disputes within ZANU-PF.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has seen its stronghold on the country weaken since a power-sharing agreement reached with the longtime opposition was implemented earlier this year and former Mugabe rival Morgan Tsvangirai became prime minister.
The unity government was formed to turn around an economic crisis that began with a land redistribution campaign in 2000.