Ariston Chambati
BornAriston Maguranyanga Chambati
15 November 1934
Died7 October 1995
Resting placeNational Heroes Acre, Harare
Known forThe first Zimbabwean to be a board member on Rhodesian led companies( Barclays Bank, Munich Reinsurance
Political partyZimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front
Spouse(s)Diana Gunduza

Ariston Maguranyanga Chambati was a Zimbabwean politician, businessman, a founding member of the Zimbabwe liberation movement and former Finance Minister. He passed on in October 1995 after a short illness from meningitis. [1]


Ariston Chambati was born on November 15, 1934, in Chinhoyi. His parents gave him the name Ariston after a Greek shopkeeper in the town, who was a friend of the family who died on the day the child was born. He was the third child in a family of two girls and three boys. His father was a shopkeeper. [2] Chambati married in 1957 when he was 21. His wife, Diana Gunduza and together they had five children, 2 boys, and 3 girls.

Education and Career

Joseph Chambati was educated at a Primary school in Sinoia from 1943-1946. Chambati then attended the Salvation Army's Bradley Institute from 1947-1950. From 1951-1952 he attended at the Howard Institute in Glendale. In 1953 he went to Tegwani Secondary School(now Thekwane)in Plumtree, where he passed his G.C.E. O levels in 1956.

Upon leaving the school he obtained work with the American Baptist Mission near Harare, as a teacher of Shona to missionaries-in-training. He remained with the mission until 1961. During this period he studied by correspondence for his G.C.E. A levels.

In April 1961 he joined the United States Consulate where he became a programme officer in the political section. He remained with the Consulate until 1963, combining his work there with freelance journalism. He then obtained a Parvin Scholarship and went to the United States to study for a B.A. degree at the Woodward Wilson School of International Affairs, in Princeton, New Jersey. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science then he went to NYU to study for his M.A in Political Science and wrote a thesis on ‘The Process of Transition from Colonial Rule to Independent Status in Tanzania’ In 1968 he was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship to study at Lincoln College, Oxford where he studied for his B. Lit and For his thesis for the degree of B.Lit. he chose the subject: ‘The Policies of Egypt and Israel in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1956-1970’. In 1970 and 1971 he traveled extensively in the Middle East, researching his B. Lit thesis which he presented in 1972. In June 1971 he joined the Commonwealth Secretariat in London as a Research Officer.


In June 1971 he joined the Commonwealth Secretariat as a Research Officer in the International Affairs Division —— a post which soon put him back into touch with Rhodesian politics.

As a member of the staff of the Commonwealth Secretariat Chambati was involved in the preparation of recommendations to the British Government on the composition of the Pearce Commission (November / December 1971). Not long afterward Bishop Muzorewa visited the Secretariat and Chambati was called in to take minutes of the discussion. His subsequent talks with the Bishop persuaded him that the time had come to return to Rhodesia in order to make a contribution in the new political atmosphere.

He arrived in Salisbury at the end of 1972 to take up a post as Research Fellow at the University of Rhodesia. Later he became a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science. He worked closely with Bishop Abel Muzorewa and was sent by him on several confidential missions, including one to the OAU. At the time of the Lusaka Declaration (December 1974), Chambati was in England but he returned to Africa shortly afterward, determined to play an active role.

Ariston Chambati was closely involved in the administrative work leading to the Congress at Gwanzura Stadium in September 1975 and soon afterward became Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC led by Joshua Nkomo. In this capacity, he attended the discussions with the Prime Minister, Ian Smith, in October and November.

In mid-November, he was present at various meetings between Joshua Nkomo and the Presidents of Zambia and Tanzania. On 10 December his appointment as a member of the ANC’s delegation to a constitutional conference in Salisbury was announced. On 31 January 1976, he left Salisbury (with Clement Muchachi) on a mission to brief the Ghanaian and Nigerian Governments on the progress — being achieved at the conference. On 27 February 1976, he accompanied Joshua Nkomo to a discussion in Salisbury with Lord Greenhill, the British envoy. The Sunday Mail of 30 May 1976 published a long article by Ariston Chambati setting out the details of the draft constitutional proposals which the ANC (Nkomo) had put forward to Prime Minister Smith as the basis of a settlement.

Political Career

In 1956 he joined the City Youth League in Harare. Chambati wrote numerous articles and pamphlets challenging white supremacy. He joined the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress and subsequently became treasurer for Harare now known as Mbare. Chambati became an executive member of Harare Branch of the re-formed congress after the merger of September 1957. This work had brought him into contact with many leading nationalists (including Edson Sithole, Terry Maluleke, and Willie Musarurwa) and it was a development which led to his becoming a founder member of the NDP in January 1960. He moved to ZAPU after the banning of the NDP in December 1961 remaining at all stages a supporter of Joshua Nkomo. His work with the American Consulate, however, did not allow him to participate actively and he was a spectator and only witnessed the growing violence between the factions leading to the split in July 1963.

While studying abroad, Chambati was an active member of ZAPU. In 1975, he was elected Deputy Secretary General of the ANC (ZAPU). In 1976 he attended the Geneva Conference on Rhodesia, acting as secretary to the ZAPU wing of the Patriotic Front delegation. In 1979, he became ZAPU’s Secretary for Research based in Lusaka, Zambia. In the same year, he took part in the Lancaster House Conference acting as a joint-secretary for the Patriotic Front delegation. He worked well with all delegations to that important conference, putting his knowledge and experience at their disposal. In 1980, Chambati returned home and was elected to the House of Assembly as a member of ZAPU for Mashonaland West provincial constituency. He was an able debater and influential parliamentarian.

He was appointed Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Bonn, the Federal Republic of Germany in October 1980. He returned in 1982 and remained active in politics. Between 1984-7, he was actively involved in promoting unity between ZANU and ZAPU culminating in the signing of the historic ZANU-ZAPU Unity Accord of 1987.

This saw his rise to sit on several boards both in Zimbabwe and abroad. These included: Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe, Munich Reinsurance Company of South Africa and the African Lakes Corporation PLC. In 1984, he joined the board of TA Holdings as a trainee manager. Later he was appointed the chairman and chief executive officer of the group. He saw TA expand into the largest local multinational, employing 10 000 people.

In 1994, Chambati was appointed to the Central Committee of the Zanu PF. He contested and won the 1995 Parliamentary elections in Makonde, Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West Province. His return to Parliament was welcomed by many people in his province. In 1995 he was appointed Minister of Finance taking up a post that had been vacant since former Minister, Bernard Chidzero took ill in October 1993. Chidzero formally stepped down as finance minister in 1995, allowing for the appointment of Chambati. [3]

Further Reading


Within three months of taking office, he presented a comprehensive Budget statement to Parliament.


He took several measures to provide funds to black businessmen so that they could enter the financial and economic markets and compete effectively. Ariston Chambati made history on 8 October by being the first African nationalism for more than a decade to appear on the national broadcasting network. He was one of a number of persons asked to give his views on the Kissinger package in a programme called ‘Rhodesia Today’. [4]


He died from meningitis five months after his appointment as Minister of Finance on 7 October 1995. Chambati was laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, Zimbabwe.


  1. Cde Chambati: A champion of economic empowerment, , Published: 23 July 2014 , Retrieved: 1 February 2018.'
  2. Find a grave, , Published: , Retrieved: 2 February 2018
  3. Cde Chambati: A champion of economic empowerment , , Published: 23 July 2014 , Retrieved: 2 February 2018
  4. Whos who 1977 profiles, , Published: 1977 , Retrieved:2 February 2018