Cde Tawengwa stood for social justice, welfare
Cde Solomon Chirume Tawengwa, the first Executive Mayor of Harare and Zanu-PF Politburo member, died at his Highlands home on Tuesday afternoon, October 26, 2004. He died from diabetes and kidney complications. He was 64. Cde Tawengwa was a lovable, humble, honest and courageous politician and businessman, who at the time of his death, had excelled on both fronts. He is counted among Zimbabwe’s early generation of youthful revolutionary cadres who had the courage to embrace the liberation struggle in the ’60s.
He served his country well throughout his political and business career, during the liberation struggle, in public office as a legislator and civic leader for the City of Harare and in the leadership of the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
Paying his condolences to the Tawengwa family and the nation as a whole, the President and First Secretary of Zanu-PF, Cde Robert Mugabe, summed up the character of the late Cde Tawengwa as that of “an honest and straight forward person who stood for the truth even in business”.
Cde Solomon Tawengwa was born on June 15, 1940, in Wedza District of Mashonaland East Province. He received his primary education in the local area at Mutukwane, St Margaret’s and St Anne’s schools, completing his Standard Six in 1955. He attended secondary education at Goromonzi High School until 1960, then he enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Political Science at Aligaru University in New Delhi, India, where he graduated in 1963.
Upon his return from India, Cde Tawengwa began his working career in the family business, following in the footsteps of his father who by then was already a distinguished and well-established black Zimbabwean businessman.
While at university in India, Cde Tawengwa joined hands with his fellow African students to form a strong movement called the African Students Association. The movement was a strong voice on campus, articulating the needs of African students there as well as being a vehicle through which African students were able to canvas support for the African’ liberation movements fighting to end colonial rule.
This period marked a turning point in the political career of Cde Tawengwa who teamed up with fellow Zimbabweans studying there such as Cdes Don Muvuti and the late John Mataure. He joined Zanu-PF, then Zanu, as a student and never looked back.
When Cde Tawengwa returned home in 1963, he worked briefly in Harare before joining his father in the family business. During the liberation struggle, he divided his time between the family business and the demands of the struggle. Oblivious to the risks and costs involved, Cde Tawengwa used the family business to provide transport, food, clothing, money and other resources required by freedom fighters to support the war effort.
He was active in the Wedza, Chiduku, Dorowa, Marondera and Sadza areas.
During this period, he was also instrumental in recruiting young men and women for military training in Mozambique.
He used the family business, Mushandirapamwe Hotel in Highfield, Harare, both for recruitment purposes and as a rendezvous for Zanu-PF stalwarts who used the hotel to plan and plot the enemy’s downfall.
From Independence until his death, Cde Tawengwa served the country and the ruling Party loyally and faithfully. He served his party in various capacities at district, provincial and national levels. At the time of his death, Cde Tawengwa was a Zanu-PF Central Committee member and Deputy Secretary for Finance in the Politburo.
Cde Tawengwa gave long time service to the City of Harare. He was councillor from 1981 to 1988 during which he was elected Deputy Mayor from 1983 to 1986 before being elected ceremonial mayor in 1986.
In 1988, he became the Member of Parliament for Highfield. When the post of Executive Mayor was introduced in 1995, Cde Tawengwa was the natural party candidate for the post which he occupied until his resignation in 1999.
During his tenure at Town House, Cde Tawengwa will be remembered for building affordable decent accommodation for the poor and for initiating many programmes that addressed the needs of street children particularly in education and their rehabilitation. He distinguished himself thus as a champion for social justice, gender equity and affirmative action.
In business, the late Tawengwa was a reputable indigenous businessman who upheld business ethics of integrity, honesty and sound corporate governance. He sat on the boards of many companies and parastatals, including the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Circle Cement, Rio Tinto Zimbabwe, the Institute of Directors, and Agricura.
Underlining his excelling qualities, President Mugabe described Cde Solomon Tawengwa as “a spirited, energetic, humble, committed but down-to-earth politician and businessman who was never too high or too busy for anyone.
He interacted freely and effortlessly with people at all levels and was affectionately known as “Big Solo, the giant one”.
The President said throughout that period of national service, Cde Tawengwa continued to fight for social justice, social welfare and economic empowerment for the marginalised using the various hats he wore: in the party, in Parliament, in the boardroom and as an ordinary citizen.
At the time of his death Cde Tawengwa was survived by his wife, Victoria, six daughters, three sons and four grandchildren.
Source: A Guide to the Heroes Acre.
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