By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
5 June 2014
Former cabinet minister and veteran nationalist Nathan Shamuyarira died in Harare on Wednesday night.
The 85-year-old former ZANU PF MP and politburo member had been seriously ill. Health Minister David Parirenyatwa confirmed to the state media that he had been in and out of hospital for some time.
Last week President Robert Mugabe visited Shamuyarira at Harare’s West End hospital, where he was on life-support in the intensive care unit.
Shamuyarira retired from civil service in 2000, indicating that he would spend his time working on party business. But as his health deteriorated he quit active politics in 2010 to put together a book on the liberation struggle, especially the role played Mugabe during the bush war.
During his long political career, Shamuyarira formed and worked for parties like FROLIZI, ANC, UNDP, ZANU, ZAPU and ZANU PF.
Although generally viewed as a moderate and laid back politician, Shamuyarira courted controversy in 2006 when appeared to criticise Mugabe and the late cabinet minister Eddison Zvobgo for apologising for the 1980 Gukurahundi massacres by the North Korean trained 5th Brigade.
He went on to say: “The actions of the North Korea-trained Five Brigade that killed around 3000 civilians and militants in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces during political disturbances in the 1980s were not regrettable as [the Five Brigade was] doing a job to protect the people. It was because the dissidents were killing people, that Gukurahundi went to correct the situation and protect the people.”
Shamuyarira was born in 1929 and went to school at the Waddilove Institute. He qualified as a primary teacher and taught at various primary schools until 1953 when he joined the world of journalism. He got a job as a junior reporter with African Newspapers Limited and rose through the ranks to become the first black African editor of the Daily News in 1956.
A brief biography of him in the Herald on Thursday says he left journalism in 1962 to join ZAPU at the invitation of the late national icon, Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa.
In 1963 he left ZAPU to form ZANU, and in September of the following year left Southern Rhodesia to study Political Science at Princeton University in the United States – graduating in 1967. He then worked as a lecturer at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, where he doubled up as ZANU’s secretary for external affairs. In 1980 he joined government as the first minister of information. He also served as Foreign Affairs Minister before his retirement.
Ropafadzo Mapimhidze, a veteran journalist and NewsDay features and supplements editor, wrote on her Facebook page that Shamuyarira was like a father figure during her early years in journalism as an information officer with the Ministry of Information.
‘May his soul rest in peace. We have a lost a great man…He was the only minister of information in post independence who was revered and respected both locally and internationally,’ said Mapimhidze.