Why I will miss Nathan Shamuyarira

shamuyagrira

The late Cde Shamuyarira

Steve Chidawanyika
Those in the diplomatic and academic circles addressed him as “Professor”, though he never addressed himself thus.
Professionals preferred the title Doctor, and those in the party addressed him as Comrade.All these titles suited him perfectly, as he was an intellectual, an academic and a revolutionary all rolled into one.

Dr Nathan Shamuyarira was a father figure who protected the country and those he worked with at all costs.

I first met Cde Nathan Marwirakuwa, popularly known in leadership circles and documents as Dr N. M. Shamuyarira, in Maputo, Mozambique in 1977 when we were supposed to be on our way to Aviation Training, somewhere in Eastern Europe.

I think the course had been said to be for seven or so years in countries like Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia.

The course was supposed to cover fighter jets, cargo planes and passenger aircraft.

As fate would befall us, the mission was aborted and we found ourselves going back to our former combat duties.

It was during our stay at one of the party residences known as Kim Sung that I met Dr Shamuyarira, a workaholic patriot and true revolutionary.

Dr Shamuyarira was a reserved person. It was very rare to see him outside his room, which he also used as his office.

I am not quite sure that I once saw him interacting with some of the comrades who were in leadership. I do not think that I ever found out who his close friend and confidante was.

In Maputo, we were waiting for the day our plane would arrive and fly us to our intended destination. We had gone through vaccination and inoculation.

As guerrillas we used pseudonyms for fear of Rhodesian government reprisals on our families back home, and we even had our passports processed in these names.

We waited for a long time while assisting in some chores at the party offices at Number 743 Caxias Postal in Maputo, but on the day we were supposed to leave we were told it was back to Chimoio, as the mission had failed. The rest is history.

While in Maputo, Dr Shamu- yarira used to send me to buy materials and deliver letters to the Zanu offices.

One thing that I noticed about him was that he never seemed to rest. He was always doing something, be it reading or writing something. At night, you would hear the sound of his typewriter as he worked on, sometimes into the morning. We wondered if he ever slept.

It actually took us sometime to come face-to-face with the occupant of the room in which the type writer never rested.

I was to meet Dr Shamuyarira again in 1984 at Mukwati Building when he was Information, Posts and Telecommunications Minister.

It was completely by coincidence that we met as we entered the same elevator, him with his personal aides and I going to the Water Ministry to see Cde Cephas  Msipa.

Dr Shamuyarira beamed and said, “Trinity, is it not,” to which I acknowledged.

We exchanged a few words before the elevator reached his floor and he invited me to his office when I was free.

But I had been transferred to Bulawayo and could not fulfil the promise until 2000.

It was when I wrote an article untitled “An in-depth analysis and strategies development and implantation programme for ZANU-PF”, which he found to be extremely useful that he invited me to work with him in the department.

When I joined him in the ZANU-PF Department of Information and Publicity, I discovered that Dr Shamuyarira was very tolerant and he respected individuals’ intellectual potential.

Since it was sometime since we had met, he tested my capabilities in dealing with very complex issues that were being perpetrated on the party by outside forces.

This was at the height of the demonisation of Zimbabwe by Western capitalist countries and their media, in support of the opposition parties that had just arisen.

I also noticed that Dr Shamu- yarira was highly regarded by the diplomatic corps and international visitors.

Whenever ambassadors assumed their duties in Zimbabwe, they made sure that they would pay a courtesy call on the great man.

He had been Foreign Affairs Minister and because of the wonderful work that he had done to improve relations between Zimbabwe and various countries, he retained lasting respect from these countries.

Dr Shamuyarira was an upright and honest man, who defended vigorously any position he deemed correct. And at times that did not go well with some who felt threatened by his stance.

He would tell me: “If someone does not like you, don’t like them too – it’s as simple as that.”

As an upright man and revolutionary per excellence, Dr Shamuyarira was loved by the ordinary people to the extent that his office was always full.

People were not afraid of him and because he would entertain all those came to his office, this usually put a lot of strain on him.

He used to travel to the Zambezi Valley to visit the underdeveloped area.

The then MP of the area, the late Cde Shumbayaonda Chande- ngenda, was very close to Dr Shamuyarira and would occasionally come to the office and they would end up traveling together to the constituency.

These visits were the initial causes of his health problems, as he usually came back with malaria. But he never stopped.

Dr Shamuyarira was very concerned with the Palestinian situation and worked very close with the Embassy of the State of Palestine.

He would mobilise ordinary people from the townships to go and celebrate important days at the Palestinian Embassy.

Dr Shamuyarira was a great defender of the downtrodden.

He never advocated for high office. He was happy serving his party, country and the revolution in any capacity.

A quiet person who knew how to crack a joke, Dr Shamuyarira was a gifted politician whom Zimbabwe has lost at a time when his wisdom could have shaped the future discourse of various issues facing the party.

He was a fair, honest, humble, respectable, intelligent, composed, credible, fearless, capable and hardworking revolutionary.

I will miss him much as I learnt a lot from him.

He had a lot of confidence in me and assigned me very important and complex tasks which many would not have done.

He also loved all journalists from whatever media house, and they too had great respect for him.

One thing of note was his effort towards making Jongwe Printing and Publishing (Pvt) Ltd a viable and useful entity for the party.

He seconded me to see to the completion of a mammoth construction project at 144 Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, which was to be a wholly encompassing complex for the company’s offices, bookshop and other facilities.

After his departure it was never completed.

Cde Shamuyarira left Government in 2000, to concentrate on his work in Zanu-PF where he was Secretary for Information and Publicity.

In 2004, Cde Shamuyarira was appointed patron of the Palestine Movement; and that same year was crucial to the establishment of the Zimbabwe Automotive Accident Fund, which provided food and scholarships to orphans of road traffic accident victims.

As one of the first black journalists in Zimbabwe, he established the Nathan Shamuyarira Foundation in 2006 whose aim was to sponsor trainee media practitioners and other disadvantaged students.

Cde Steven Chidawanyika is ZANU-PF director for information.

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