Cde Muchachi: Doughty fighter of the liberation war
A veteran politician and nationalist, Cde Clement Muneri Muchachi, died in Gweru on October 8, 2001 after a long struggle with hypertension. He was 76-years-old. Zimbabwe had once again been robbed of one of its gallant sons. Cde Muchachi was a simple man who was consistent in dedication to both the party and the nation.
In his condolence message, the President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF Cde Robert Mugabe ,expressed shock and sadness at the death of Cde Muchachi. He said Cde Muchachi had played a distinguished role as a veteran nationalist who was opposed to colonialism and became a doughty fighter in the liberation struggle.
He described him as an undaunted victim of countless colonial detentions and torture who consistently kept ranks with his comrades-in-arms in the then ZAPU and worked with all of us in the Patriotic Front. Cde Mugabe went on to describe Cde Muchachi thus: “Never to waver, never to tire, Cde Muchachi served his people as the first Minister of Public Works in the newly constituted Government of national unity of an independent Zimbabwe”.
According to the President, Cde Muchachi continued to play a constructive role in support of the search for unity and would be remembered for that contribution which translated into unity, peace and tranquillity, which the country is enjoying.
He said despite Cde Muchachi’s deteriorating health condition, he had time to think of the national question of land and would repeatedly exhort all those in leadership to deliver this principal benefit of independence.
Cde Muchachi’s political history combined brave activism and frequent incarcerations and detentions for his basic and unwavering conviction that Zimbabwe had to be free. He worked in purposeful unity with many other leading nationalists to ensure that the Patriotic Front was not unduly handicapped by the permanent ban on it by the settler regime but that it retained and continued to enjoy visibility inside the country.
At independence Cde Muchachi was appointed as the Minister of Public Works, a post he held until 1982. In this capacity he spearheaded a reconstruction programme, which saw schools, clinics and houses, dams and roads being constructed.
Cde Muchachi was born on August 19, 1925, in Matondo area in Shurugwi. He attended St Francis School in Shurugwi, Thumba School and the Gloag Ranch Mission for his primary school. He went to Goromonzi Secondary School for his secondary education.
His leadership qualities became apparent at this tender age when he was appointed a prefect at the same time serving as the chairman of the school’s debating society. He completed his secondary education up to the Advanced Level through correspondence. He went on to enrol with the University of South Africa during which he studied Economics and the British Constitution. He also became a member of the British Institute of Public Relations.
Cde Muchachi worked as a clerk for the Native Education Department for four years before moving into commerce in Bulawayo. While in Bulawayo he also worked as the organising secretary for the Bulawayo Municipality Association.
A determined fighter for the liberation of Zimbabwe, Cde Muchachi was involved in active politics for the larger part of his life. For his uncompromising stance against minority rule he spent several years in detention. His political career started in 1952, when he became a branch secretary of the Bulawayo-based African National Congress. He was a founder member of the African National Congress. He also became actively involved in all political parties formed afterwards.
Cde Muchachi was instrumental in the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1952 in Bulawayo and was elected to the leadership of the association.
In Harare a National Youth League was formed in 1954 to fight colonialists. These two organisations were merged in 1957 at a congress held in Harare and Cde Muchachi was very active in the formation of the new movement, the Southern Rhodesia African Congress (SRANC). He became a senior member in the new association before it was banned in 1957.
That same year the National Democratic Party (NDP) was formed and Cde Muchachi held senior positions in the new party. He was elected to the committee for the Bulawayo African townships. He was at one time the Secretary for Youth responsible for recruitment. In this capacity he facilitated the movement of nationalists such as Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa to avoid harassment by settler agents.
He played an instrumental role in the establishment of various military training camps while he held various positions in the national executive. On December 10, 1961 NDP was banned and eight days later the Zimbabwe African People’s Union was banned, and most of its leaders were put under restricted movement for three months. The People’s Caretaker Council was created as a temporary replacement inside Rhodesia, but ZAPU maintained its existence externally.
In 1963, the movement split into ZAPU and ZANU. Both ZAPU and ZANU were banned in 1964, and much of the nationalist leadership was imprisoned. Then in March 1970, Rhodesia declared itself a republic. In the meantime both ZANU and ZAPU had opted for a strategy of armed struggle. The guerrilla war, carried on primarily by ZANU forces led by Cde Robert Mugabe based in Mozambique, was causing a rapid deterioration in the Rhodesian government’s position.
Guerrilla incursions began in 1966 on the initiative of ZANU, and continued rather sporadically over the next few years. In 1972, the guerrilla war escalated sharply as ZANU began to open up a new front in the north-east, operating out of Mozambique.
Cde Muchachi was to spend 10 years in prison or restriction between 1964 and 1974. He was detained at Gonakudzingwa in 1964, following which he was moved to Hwa Hwa Prison in Gweru. After his release from Hwa Hwa he was later detained at Harare Prison between 1974 and 1979.
Following the Unity Accord between ZANU (PF) and PF-ZAPU in December 1987, Cde Muchachi was appointed a member of the National Consultative Assembly during which he continued to serve the party and the nation with the determination and commitment that characterised his stature. He remained a member of this august body until the time of his death.
Cde Clement Muchachi’s selflessness, dedication and commitment to the liberation of the people of Zimbabwe can neither be over-nor understated, they speak for themselves. Thus it is befitting that a man of such humility, selflessness, integrity and consistency in serving the cause of Zimbabwe before and after independence, is duly accorded the highest honour of National Hero status.
Cde Muchachi was married to the late Eleanor Nkomo and had one child.
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