Tekere’s true friends


Former Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front secretary general and founder of the Zimbabwe Union Movement, Edgar Tekere, has died. At one time he was President Robert Mugabe’s number two but he was expelled from the party in 1988 after opposing the drive towards a one-party state and condemning increasing corruption with the party and the government. Although ZANU-PF readmitted him to the party in 2005, he was fired again after writing his book: A lifetime of struggle. In the introduction to the book, he mentioned who his true friends were. Here they are:

Soon after my return to Zimbabwe after independence, I made a statement in Parliament. My monthly income amounted to the princely sum of 0.38 cents. Yet I am an extremely wealthy man, rich in friends.

I have always had friends, but their true kindness came to the fore after I was sacked from the position of Secretary General of the Party.

I did not confide the extent of my poverty to a soul, but they noticed, and quietly set about assisting me. So here, I wish to name only some of them.

Roger Boka: I did not know Boka until, on my return to Zimbabwe after independence, he sought me out and introduced himself to me. He was interested, he said, in improving my image, so as to fit me for the new role I was assuming.

It was as if he had listened to Samora Machel give me one of his lectures prior to my leaving Mozambique. And fit me out he did. I was taken to an outfitter’s and provided with three suits, several pairs of shoes, shirts, socks and ties.

When I was sacked from the Party, his concern mounted, and I would find that my rates had been paid, in credit. I would receive monthly cash payments, none amounting to less than Z$800,000.00, which was a goodly sum in those days.

I had not known how ill he was, when one day he arrived in Mutare in his new Rolls. He had come, he said, to see his old school at Old Mutare, and he wanted me to accompany him there. He told his driver to disembark, and instructed me to drive him to the school.

He said to me, “You drive very embarrassing cars”. (I was then driving a Mazda 323). “Let’s see how you like the feel of a really good car.”

He was to make presentations to the school, the church and the orphanage, and these he handed to me to give to the recipients. By the time we got back to Mutare, Boka was really very ill. I took him to doctor Kangwende, and later he went on to the governor, Kenneth Manyonda’s home.

I did not see him again. Some time later, Tradex Marketing called to inform me that my new car was ready. What new car? I asked. The representative replied that they had been instructed by Roger Boka to have a Mitsubishi Twin Cab delivered to me forthwith. It was a 1997 model, fully paid for. This is the car that I drive to this day.

Baba Matongo: Baba Matongo owned a fleet of buses, and a supermarket in Mabvuku suburb, East of Harare. For a full eighteen months from the time of the Adams case he would drive to my house in Mandara and quietly drop there a stock of groceries. And I never caught him in the act.

If I tried to contact him, he would always evade me, and when I finally did manage to thank him, he was not pleased at all!

Makomva: In 1983, Makomva arrived at my house in Mandara accompanied by the owner of Tanaka Power. We chatted a while, until it was time to leave, and I saw them to their car. Makomva quietly said to me that he had left an envelope in the lounge, telling me to read the contents later on.

After they left, I opened the envelope, to find a cheque for Z$3,000.00. In 1983, this amounted to a small fortune.

Abdulatief Parker: Latief, as I called him, had settled in Harare from Cape Town. He was a businessman dealing in import/exports, and we had struck up a friendship sometime before. At one time Laatief opened an account in my name at a local bank, into which he deposited Z$500,000.00 every month for a period of three years.

After his return to Cape Town, he would send me air tickets, so that I could visit South Africa. During the course of these visits I became friends with the whole Parker family – Abu, a building contractor, Ali, a printer and staunch ANC supporter.

Ali and another brother, Iqbal, took me to a Cape Town shop and bought me the finest pair of shoes I have ever owned.

I also developed a friendship with a Dr Elaine Clark, and I had regular medical check-ups at the hospital where she worked, the reports being passed on to Dr Pfumojena back home in Mutare.

John Williams: Through Latief, I met a number of South African academics, including John Williams. From 1991 he made regular payments to me of Z$6,000.00, during the course of an entire year. The three of us spent a lot of time together whenever I visited South Africa.

Jonathan Kadzura: Jonathan is a very successful businessman, and a close friend. After my sacking, he would often visit me at home, saying, “Ehe, mukoma Eddie, zvinhu zvenyu zvepolitics hinomunodyei?” (Brother Eddie, you and your politics thing, what do you want with it?). This admonishment would always be accompanied by a gift of cash.

One day in Mutare we met by chance, having almost passed each other by. “Mukoma Eddie!” He exclaimed, “Zvepolitics dzenyu izvi – murikungofamba musina kana mari!” (Brother Eddie, these politics of yours – you are walking about without a cent to your name). With that, he marched to his car, drew out Z$3,000.00 and gave it to me.

Between 1986 and 1987, (Mukoma Eddie, tichakuonai mafa nenzara nepolitics dzenyu idzi tikaitazvemasanga kudai!), (Brother Eddie, we will see you dying of hunger with these politics of yours!), he would pay Z$1,200,000.00 into my bank account every month.

Kenneth Dzirimi: By 1988 I was still driving the blue Jaguar which I had been given, along with the house in St Martin’s, on my return to Zimbabwe after independence. My friend Kenneth Dzirimi owned a service station in Yeoville, where he still worked repairing cars. He would often attend to my Jaguar there.

On 25 September 1988 at about 4.00 in the afternoon, I drove up to his service station. Dzirimi would call me babamkuru, or elder brother. “Babamkuru!” he cried, “I was just going to come looking for you! Come, let’s go for a drive.” We left, driving a 2.8I Jaguar (mine was a 4.2I).

We drove out of Mutare, over the spectacular Christmas Pass, towards Old Mutare, where he turned the car around, saying, “You like Jaguars so much, you drive.” When we got back to his garage, I said how much I had enjoyed driving the car.

Dzirimi replied,  “Your old Jaguar will soon give you problems, so I bought this one for you. The transfer of ownership has been done, and everything is ready for you. Here are the papers, and the keys.  ‘

The new car developed a steering problem, and I took it to Mr Ernie Stockil, at Brake and Clutch, who had to keep it for a few days. He observed that I had too much to do, and only one car, as the breakdown had prevented me from driving to Masvingo on business. And he presented me with a very good Mazda 323 to use as my second car.

Jonathan Kadzura telephoned me not long after I had received the Mazda. I was driving to Harare the following day and he instructed me to drive to his house and pick up the keys for his new Jaguar, a G20 model.  “Drive it away,” he said, “It is now yours. Come to the office later and we can transfer ownership.”

In fact, the only car I ever bought was for Ruvimbo, my wife.

One of the reasons for my survival to this day, is the fact that when using government vehicles, I always insisted on driving myself! There have been too many accidents in this country involving prominent people and their drivers.

Enoch and Farai Musabaeka: Enoch, the former mayor of Mutare is the father, and Farai is his son. The two would make payments into my account at the bank, the manager of which was Mr Matangaidze, who would also assist me, even after he retired.

The Musabaekas would also procure spare parts for my cars, as they were in the transport business. In the mid-1980s spare parts were hard to come by.

Mwaera: Mwaera was one of the group that had bought me a house in St Martins on my return to Zimbabwe. Our friendship went as far back as 1956, and he was one of ZANU’s main supporters, along with Chiweshe, Machipisa and Makomva.

He looked upon me as a son, and soon introduced me to his son, Patrick. Patrick often gave gifts, especially when he travelled out of the country.

Oliver Chakonda: Oliver Chakonda, of Chao Chao Enterprises, owned a string of shops in Mutare and provided for all my most basic needs, right down to the toiletries. When I first moved to Mutare, I was staying in a house in Weymouth suburb, and Chakonda said to me, “I don’t like the nature of your stay here sekuru, there’s no security.”

One day, when I was not at home, he drove to the house and packed up all my belongings. He had found a better house. For this, my future home, he paid the deposit, as well as the mortgage for the first few years.

Chakonda was a staunch ZANU loyalist, and had fed hundreds of returning combatants and refugees at his restaurant in Mutare.

Kingstone Makoni: Kingstone was my uncle, and a friend of Chakonda’s. He owned Chingaira Bus Service. When I moved into the house Chakonda had bought me, the two of them came to the house with Z$2,000.00 as a welcome present to help me settle in.

Joseph Sanhanga: Jo would pay my bills, saying, “It is month-end, would you have your power supplycut?”At the time I was having to pay for my house in Mandara, Harare, as well as my Mutare home, and Sanhanga advised me to borrow cash from one building society to pay off the mortgage of the Mandara house, which was with another building society.

This lightened my burden a great deal. Sanhanga would tease me, with, “Chef, it’s disgraceful that a man like you doesn’t know how to count money.” He would also buy me spares for my cars.

Israel Magwenzi: Magwenzi owned Kama Construction Company in Harare. He had been struck by something I said when I was giving a talk. We met in 1997 at Chikwanha Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza. He said to me, “I have been a success in life because I followed the advice you gave at that talk, and I am lucky to have met you. Please enjoy a share of my success.” With this, he wrote me a cheque for Z$5,000.00. After this, we met occasionally to talk, and he gave me different sums of money.

Gideon Gono: In early December of 2001, I met Jonathan Kadzura, who presented me with a cheque for Z$200,000.00. He said, “The person who gave you this money has borrowed it from me, but he will pay me back.”

When I asked who it was who had been so generous, he replied, “Mukoma Eddie, shamwari dzenyu dzinopera here?” (You have countless friends).

Then, on Tuesday 19 February 2002, Gideon Gono invited me to his office at 6:30 that evening, along with Jonathan Kadzura. When I arrived, he said to me, “I have called you here to make a formal presentation of my gift which you first received through Jonathan. It has taken quite some time, but it is an issue that has been on my mind. This is my thank you gift for liberating our country. Look where I am now, carrying an enormous amount of responsibility, which goes along with lots of respect. You see, among all those who survived the war, my assessment is that you are the primary contributor. We are going through lots of problems, but they are of our own making. So please, Sir, accept my thank you.”

With this, Gono repaid the Z$200,000.00 which Jonathan had given me, and added a further Z$300,000.00.

Sam Paweni: Paweni, together with his wife, had been accused of misappropriating food assistance, and sent to jail. I was horrified at the injustice of this, and burst out in parliament, “You have sent Paweni to jail, but the real criminal walks free, and is sitting with us at the high table!”

Perhaps it was my defence of him that led Paweni to assist me, but he had already given me a gift of Z$10,000.00. He was well connected in the CIO. He would pay my hotel bills whenever I had to travel in Zimbabwe and had to stay in a hotel.

Once, he had booked me into the Meikles Hotel in Harare, when he received a tip-off that there was a security threat. He therefore posted one of his security people at the hotel, who was to take me away from there before I booked in, saying, “I have been sent by Mr Paweni to take you somewhere as there is an urgent matter that needs your attention.”

I was then driven by a very circuitous route, to the Red Fox Hotel in a suburb of Harare. There, I found all my belongings, and it was explained that Paweni had received a security alert that it was no longer safe for me to remain at Meikles.

Richard Mashave, Leonard Nyamutsamba and Bill Tanhire: These three friends have always assisted me.

Mr and Mrs Matangaidze: Mr and Mrs Matangaidze, of Matan Holdings in Mutare, regularly call me, with, “Would you please find time to drive by our business. We have a parcel for you.” Inevitably I am presented with a veritable parcel, whose contents consist of bundles of banknotes.

Ephraim Masawi: Ephraim Masawi has all the details of my bank account, and will make payments into it from time to time.

General Solomon Mujuru: The General also has my bank account details, which he obtained from Masawi; and has assisted me from time to time.

Tim Chiganze: Through Patrick Chinamasa, I received a message from Mr Chiganze, to say that each time I come to Harare, I can stay in a Zimbabwe Sun hotel at his expense. So far I have not taken advantage of this kind offer, as I stay with my sister and brother in law.

My Perfect “Sahwira”, Ibbo Mandaza: When I was secretary general of ZANU in Mozambique, Dr Mandaza was an academic, teaching at Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania. Throughout most of 1979 he worked with the Party’s department of manpower in Maputo. Part of my duties included travelling to different countries to look for aid, as well as attending international gatherings, often at the UN General Assembly in New York or Geneva. The reports presented at these meetings had to be of a high level with more intellectual content than we combatants could muster.

I was thus very interested in assembling a “think tank”, who would be able to assist in compiling these reports. Besides Mandaza, there was also Bernard Chidzero, at the UN, Kombo Moyana, and Stan Mudenge who was based at the University of Lesotho.

The same people, as well as Prof Walter Kamba, who was in Scotland, and Simbi Mubako, also assisted us during the negotiations at Lancaster House. The latter two were our legal team.

Since Dr Mandaza was so close to Maputo, he would come frequently from Dar es Salaam, and I depended a lot on him. Since he was with us so often, he was also able to give advice at a personal level, if there was a problem.

Then, when we returned to Zimbabwe, and I was appointed Minister of Manpower Planning and Development, I assembled the same team again, to advise me on how to run the Ministry. Ibbo Mandaza was the captain of this team.

I very soon became frustrated, as my “team” began to be poached from me. The last straw came when Hope Bakasa was called away, and I threatened to resign. It was Ibbo Mandaza who came to my home in Mandara to persuade me to stay on in office.

The period 1982-12983 was a very stressful one for me and Ibbo Mandaza, seeing what I was going through, organised for me to go to Romania for treatment. At the time I suffered from an enlarged prostrate gland, (my father had died of prostrate cancer), and I needed to have it removed. Ibbo Mandaza was able to make an appointment for me to be operated on immediately, and he paid my consultation fee.

Right up to 2001, Ibbo Mandaza believed I had been given a retirement package when I left the party. In June of that year, he visited me in Mutare with his family, and when he saw the house, he said, “So is this the house that Zanu- PF built for you?” He was truly shocked when he learned thatthis was not the case. When Enos Nkala left the Party, he was given a package and a Mercedes Benz, but I had nothing.

By June 2001, my house in Mutare was sorely in need of repainting, and Ibbo Mandaza paid for the paint and the painters to do the job. I hope it will help contribute towards an understanding of the dynamics of the liberation struggle, and what went wrong thereafter.

Allan Mushonga and Anne Derges: My thanks to Allan Mushonga for his long hours of patient transcription of my words, and to Anne Derges who helped Ibbo Mandaza by transcribing my long-winded interviews and discussion sessions.

My Comrades: But my most heartfelt thanks must go to those comrades, both those in front and those at the rear, who participated in putting down the insurrection of 31 January 1978, that was organised by Hamadziripi, Chigowe, Mparuri and Mandizvidza, without a shot being fired and with no injury or death.

I am also indebted to Comrade Max and other security companions who were close to me during the time of the insurrection. I would like to thank Comrade Shumba, who drove my operation vehicle at the time. My profound gratitude goes to Comrade Morgan Mhaka and the platoon he commanded in the operation he conducted to rescue Comrade Ushewokunze and myself from being murdered by Claitos Chigowe on the early morning of that same day.

I am indebted to the troops who helped capture Chigowe, Muparuri and other elements omitted in the initial round-up. Thank you also to the majority of members of Zanu PF for their continued respect and friendship after my sacking from the Party.

You see, to this day, I still enjoy more friendship and respect from among Zanu PF people than from all the opposition groupings combined. I am grateful that I still enjoy the friendship and respect of my war veteran colleagues.

My Stroke: During the night of May 28th 2002, I was asleep at home when I suffered a mild stroke. If my wife, a nursing sister, had not been with me, I should have died that night. She called the ambulance service to take me to hospital, and contacted Dr Pfumojena. Dr Pfumojena called it a ‘no stroke”, as for some reason neither my speech nor my mobility was affected.

Only later, in 2003, I suffered a residual effect and one side of my mouth dropped, but this was rectified with physiotherapy.

Since 2002, Ibbo Mandaza has been paying for all my medication.

Simon Muzenda was still alive then, though himself unwell, and he heard about my illness and asked the Minister of Health, Dr Parirenyatwa what he knew of my condition. Muzenda said, “I heard at one time he was ill,” and Parirenyatwa replied that he wasn’t much in contact with me.

Muzenda then ordered Dr Parirenyatwa to follow up on my well being. Through Saviour Kasukuwere, he telephoned me, and I put him in touch with Dr Pfumojena. Parirenyatwa continued to conscientiously monitor my well being, and when, in 2005, I had a prostectomy at St Anne’s hospital, the shortfall of my bill was taken care of by the minister.

Muzenda must have mentioned his concern to Robert Mugabe, for Minister Parirenyatwa continues to concern himself with my health, even after the death of Muzenda, at the instance of Mugabe himself.

And so, perhaps a time to thank is also a time to forgive. I must thank Muzenda as well as Mugabe, for his good influence on the latter’s usually aloof nature.

Dai zvagara zvakadaro 


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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