Giants that fell in 2013


THE year 2013 was a bad year for Matabeleland politics as it saw the deaths of several towering leaders. Below are some of the most influential people who died last year.

  • John Nkomo



Vice-President John Nkomo died on January 17 after treatment for cancer in South Africa aged 87.
His death removed a potential successor to President Robert Mugabe who turned 89 the following month.
Nkomo had been nominated for the joint number two position alongside VP Joice Mujuru after a bruising internal poll that left Zanu PF more divided.
Zanu PF is likely to replace him with former Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo who was given the post of Senior minister in Mugabe’s Cabinet announced last September.
Moyo is likely to be elevated at the next Zanu PF congress.
Nkomo, a founding nationalist represented Zapu in the ruling party and had succeeded Joseph Msika.
He was regarded as an efficient administrator and one of the few sober voices in Zanu PF.

  • Enos Nkala



Zanu PF founder Enos Nkala died on August 31 at a Harare hospital aged 81.
He was accorded national hero status. Mugabe pronounced soon after his death that if Nkala was not buried at the Heroes’ Acre no one deserved to be declared a hero.
However, Nkala’s death divided opinion in the country with people mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands opposing his hero status on the grounds that he played an instrumental role in the Gukurahundi genocide that left over 20 000 dead in the region.
At his burial in Harare, Mugabe told mourners Nkala in 1963 told him “leave Joshua Nkomo to me. He is Ndebele and I am Ndebele”.
The statement was taken to mean Nkala had a personal grudge with Nkomo, which could have led to the deadly fighting between Zanu PF and PF Zapu.

  • Mike Karakadzai



National Railways of Zimbabwe general manager Mike Karakadzai died on August 20 when his vehicle hit a stray cow near Shangani. He was buried at the Heroes’ Acre.

  • Jevan Maseko


jevan maseko

Matabeleland North’s first governor and former Zimbabwe ambassador to Cuba, Jevan Maseko died on May 20 after suffering from diabetes and kidney failure. He was declared a national hero.
Maseko joined the liberation struggle in the 1970s, and upon returning to the country in 1980, he was integrated into the army becoming a major general.
He was later posted as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Algeria, Russia and Cuba, before retiring from the government in 2009.

  • Amos Ngwenya


Zapu founder member Amos Patrick “Jack” Ngwenya died in August aged 80.
He died at United Bulawayo Hospitals after suffering a stroke and later succumbing to pneumonia.
Ngwenya was a member of the Zapu National Council of Elders for Bulawayo.
Despite tributes from Zanu PF leaders, the party denied Ngwenya national hero status.

  • Richard Gedi Dube

Former Zipra deputy commissar Richard Gedi Dube died in October.
He succumbed to a vascular problem in South Africa where he had gone for a medical check-up.
Dube became one of the many former Zipra cadrés denied national hero status by Zanu PF despite his illustrious contribution to the liberation struggle.
He worked with the likes of the late national hero Jevan Maseko and retired Brigadier Ambrose Mutiniri, among others.
Dube was the first black commandant of the Zimbabwe School of Infantry based at Mbalabala in 1984.


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