Christopher Farai Charamba Correspondent
Dr Utete was a top civil servant for 23 years, retiring from the post of Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet in 2003
Former Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Charles Utete yesterday died at the age of 77 years at his home in Harare.
Dr Utete was a top civil servant for 23 years, retiring from the post of Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet in 2003.
Following his retirement from Government, Dr Utete served on numerous boards and commissions in Zimbabwe.
Born in Chivhu on October 30, 1938 Charles Utete did his primary schooling at Kwenda Mission school. He then went to Tegwani High School and completed his A Level at Goromonzi High School in 1960.
Dr Utete then attended the University of Rhodesia and in 1963 graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Economics. He would then leave the country and travel to Boston, Massachusetts in the United States where he completed an MA in Political Science at Tufts University.
Following this, Dr Utete attended Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada until 1971 where he completed an MA and PhD in International Relations and Public Administration.
Dr Utete returned to the US where he held a teaching post at Montclair State College, New Jersey.
He returned home in1979 and joined the University of Rhodesia as a senior lecturer of political science before serving as Dean of the Faculty of Social Affairs at the University of Zimbabwe, a post he held until 1981.
In February 1981, Dr Utete was appointed by then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, President Mugabe to the post of Secretary to the Prime Minister. Two years later in April 1983, Dr Utete was appointed to Cabinet as Secretary to Cabinet a post he would hold for 20 years.
During his tenure as Chief Secretary to Cabinet, he undertook a number of key responsibilities in Government. In August 1986 he was the Secretary-General of the eighth Non-Aligned Movement Summit held in Harare, with senior officials from the 101 Non Aligned Movement countries in attendance.
Dr Utete was elected the chairman of the University of Zimbabwe Council in 1987.
In 1991, he served as the chief executive of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) directorate which facilitated the CHOGM meeting held in Harare in October of that year.
Dr Utete also served as the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Organising Committee of the World Solar Summit which was held in Harare in September 1996.
Following this, the year 1999 saw Dr Utete appointed to a 10-member anti-corruption task force by the National Economic Consultative Forum.
On the issue of corruption, Dr Utete was on record saying; “Combating corruption would be a pipe-dream as long as members of the public are part and parcel of the corruption process.
Thus there is a need to shift public attitude so that they do not resort to bribing when caught on the wrong side of the law.”
In 2002, Dr Utete held the post of Chairman of the Personal Representatives of Heads of State in the World Solar Commission.
After 23 years as a top civil servant, Dr Utete retired on April 1, 2003. At the time of his retirement Dr Utete stated that it was time to move on and he wanted to rest.
At a farewell event, President Mugabe said Dr Utete had become a central figure in the Government’s system and had contributed immensely to the development of the country.
After he had retired Dr Utete’s work for the nation was not complete as he was appointed Chairperson of the Presidential Land Review Commission, which was tasked with assessing progress in the implementation of the land reform programme and to make recommendations.
Outside of Government, Dr Utete served on various boards in both the public and private sector. He was the chairman of Cairns Holdings Ltd since January 2007.
The former chief secretary also chaired the boards of the Industrial Development Corporation and Seed Co Zimbabwe where he also served as a director.
He was the current chairperson of Astra Industries Ltd.
Dr Utete was also the immediate past chairman of Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited.
Before his appointment as Zimpapers chairman, he had been a director at Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Ltd since September 2009.
He was also patron of the Chivhu District Hospital.
Dr Utete is survived by his wife, Verna and five children.