A committed nationalist and an outstanding businesswoman, Cde Julia Tukai Zvobgo passed away at her house in Harare on February 16, 2004 following a heart attack.
Cde Julia Zvobgo was born of the Whande family of Shurugwi on November 8, 1937. She was raised in a peasant family of two brothers and five sisters. After going through her primary education at Mwezhe, Pakame, Morgenster Mission and later at Mucheke Government school, she proceeded to Tegwani for her secondary education.
She then enrolled for a teacher training programme at Gutu Mission where she completed her lower Teacher’s Certificate in 1958. Cde Julia Zvobgo taught for a while before proceeding to Usher Mission in 1961 where she pursued a Diploma in Domestic Science.
It was while at Usher Mission that she met her future husband — Cde Eddison Zvobgo, who was soon to leave for the United States as on an educational scholarship.
After their marriage, Cde Julia Zvobgo had to remain at home for a while as she was expecting her first child.
Cde Julia Zvobgo’s earliest experience with racist repression was when she witnessed the arrest of her husband, then returning from the United States.
Her husband was subsequently sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
Having become a member of Zanu at its formation in August 1963, Cde Julia Zvobgo and other young women bore the brunt of suppressive racist colonial rule which peaked under the Rhodesian Front.
The banning of Zanu in 1964 saw her husband detained and restricted at Sikombela and other camps of incarceration across the country.
Cde Zvobgo’s commitment to her family and nationalist values made her endure the constant harassment and torture at the hands of the brutal Rhodesian security agents who accused her of smuggling political messages to and from her detained husband and his colleagues.
From 1968-1971 she studied in the United Kingdom at Hillcroft in Surrey, and later on a United Nations scholarship, at Leeds Polytechnic where she qualified with a Diploma in Institutional Management in 1971.
Cde Julia Zvobgo then continued her higher education in 1975 in the United States where her husband was studying and teaching.
In 1977, she obtained a SA in political science at Lewis University in Illinois.
When her husband had left for Mozambique to join others in prosecuting the liberation struggle, Cde Julia moved to Notre Dame University where she obtained a Master of Science in Administration in August 1978.
After her studies in the United States, Cde Julia Zvobgo left that country to join her husband in the armed struggle in Mozambique where she was elected Administrative Secretary for Women’s Affairs.
She took on the duties of attending to the problems of women in military and refugee camps and was one of the pioneers of the Women’s League.
At the end of the Lancaster House Conference, she was among the first group of Zanu-PF cadres to return to Zimbabwe in December 1979 as part of the Election Directorate and helped open the party’s office at 88 Manica Road, now Robert Mugabe road, in Harare.
She was imprisoned for two weeks during the 1980 election campaign for allegedly assisting Zanla forces in the Zvishavane area and was only released after the polls.
Cde Julia Zvobgo was duly elected Member of Parliament for the Midlands constituency of Zvishavane at the historic 1980 elections.
She was also a member of the Zanu-PF Central Committee during the first decade of Zimbabwe’s independence.
Due to her commitment and hard work, she was elected Secretary for Publicity and Information in the Women’s League in 1984.
She was re-elected Member of Parliament in 1985 and retired from active politics in 1990 to concentrate on family business.
Cde Julia Zvobgo was a devout Christian and was a member of the Methodist Church.
At the time of her death, she was survived by her husband and three children-two daughters and a son. — A Guide to the Heroes Acre.