The death of Eddison Zvobgo, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front legislator for Masvingo South and a veteran nationalist, had left a void within the ruling ZANU-PF which was difficult to fill, United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan said.
Zvobgo had fallen out of favour with President Robert Mugabe because of his open criticism of the party leadership but he was declared a national hero and buried at the Heroes Acre.
He accused fellow ZANU-PF members of seizing farms and state institutions and of poisoning the nation with corrupt practices.
“The country has lost an outspoken and intellectually powerful voice with Zvobgo’s passing,” Sullivan, who was a personal friend of Zvobgo dating back to their student days together in the US, said.
“Like late Vice-President Muzenda, Zvobgo was an especially popular figure in his politically important Masvingo home province. Zvobgo’s controversial criticism of ZANU-PF insiders fuelled intra-party divisions.
“The party lacks anyone with the stature, integrity, and courage to assume his mantle and his passing may present ZANU-PF with an opportunity to fortify its unity in the run-up to the 2005 parliamentary elections,” he said.
Viewing cable 04HARARE1429, ZVOBGO DEATH LEAVES VOID IN RULING PARTY
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001429
C O R R E C T E D Copy – Missing lines
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICAN DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C.GURNEY
PARIS FOR C.NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958 : N/A
SUBJECT: ZVOBGO DEATH LEAVES VOID IN RULING PARTY
1.(U) Veteran nationalist and ZANU-PF Member of Parliament for
Masvingo South, Dr Eddison Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo died on August
22 at the age of 69 after a lengthy illness. The GOZ has declared
him a national hero; his funeral is scheduled for August 29 at
Heroes’ Acre in Harare. Zvobgo, whose wife passed away earlier this
year, is survived by his seven children. Zvobgo was one of the
first beneficiaries of the African-American Institute scholarships
for Southern Africans in the early 1960’s and studied at Tufts and
2.(U) In recent years Zvobgo had fallen out of favor with President
Mugabe, a former friend with whom he worked closely through years of
civil war and early independence. He was awaiting investigation over
his outspoken criticism of the ZANU-PF. In March 2003, he shocked
members of parliament when he called for the establishment of an
anti-corruption commission. Zvobgo accused fellow ZANU-PF members of
seizing farms and state institutions of poisoning the nation with
3.(U) Zvobgo also played a crucial role on the Parliamentary Legal
Committee, which passes on the constitutionality of pending
legislation. Under Zvobgo’s direction, the committee frequently issued
adverse reports on draconian legislation such as the 2002 Public Order
and Security Act, which was nonetheless passed and has since served as
the pretext for the routine arrests of Zimbabweans demonstrating agains
4.(SBU) The country has lost an outspoken and intellectually powerfull
voice with Zvobgo’s passing. A personal friend of the Ambassador datin
back to their student days together, he was trusted by the opposition
party and highly regraded by Zimbabweans as a whole. Like late
Vice-President Muzenda, Zvobgo was an especially popular figure in his
politically important Masvingo home province. Zvobgo’s controversial
criticism of ZANU-PF insiders fueled intra-party divisions. The party
lacks anyone with the stature, integrity, and courage to assume his
mantle and his passing may present ZANU-PF with an opportunity to
fortify its unity in the run-up to the 2005 parliamentary elections.