By Violet Gonda
28 January 2013
Zimbabweans from all walks of life converged on a church service at the home of the late University of Zimbabwe Professor John Makumbe in Chadcombe, Harare on Tuesday, to pay their last respects before his body was taken to Manicaland for burial.
The outspoken political analyst, who died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack, is expected to be buried at his rural home in Marenga, Buhera West on Wednesday.
Scores of politicians from different political parties, united in paying tribute to the respected academic and prominent political and social commentator, affectionately known as the “only white man of Buhera”.
Those who attended the funeral wake at his Harare home included Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Mavambo Kusile Dawn leader Dr. Simba Makoni, ZANU PF politburo member Abigail Damasane, National Constitution Assembly chairman Dr. Lovemore Madhuku, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project Jestina Mukoko, Political analyst and publisher Dr Ibbo Mandaza, Reverend Useni Sibanda and several other church leaders and members of the diplomatic and business community.
The 63 year old fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe is survived by his wife, Virginia, and three children – Tapiwa, Simba and Rumbidzai.
The Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Eric Matinenga, who is also a family spokesman, told SW Radio Africa that family and friends are still in a state of shock and devastated, but “at the end of the day we have no power and we have to accept it.”
The minister said Makumbe started experiencing chest pains last week, resulting in him being briefly hospitalized for a couple of days. Matinenga, who visited Makumbe at his home on the day before he died, said the humorous academic seemed to be his “usual self”.
“In fact he actually accompanied us out of the house, when we were leaving, directing me on how to drive because I had not parked properly.”
Makumbe was set to succeed Matinenga in Buhera West in the forthcoming general elections. It is reported that there has been an outpouring of grief in this constituency.
“The people of Buhera West are distraught. It could not have happened at a worse time. Here is somebody who was now settling-in, in the constituency in terms of relationships with the structures and the people. But we have to accept it and we have to move on,” Matinenga added.
Makumbe has been described by many who knew him as a ‘tireless fighter for human rights,’ a ‘political gladiator’ and a ‘man of all seasons who was comfortable in every situation.’