Bernard Chidzero
Bernard Chidzero.png
BornBernard Thomas Gibson Chidzero
(1927-07-01)July 1, 1927
Salisbury, Rhodesia
DiedAugust 8, 2002(2002-08-08) (aged 75)
Resting placeHeroes Acre, Harare.
Alma mater
  • University of Ottawa
  • Politician
  • Economist
  • Writer
Known forRan the Secretary General of the UN.
Political partyZANU
Opponent(s)Rhodesian Front
Spouse(s)Micheline Dusablon
ChildrenBernard Chidzero Jr
Parent(s)James Kangolwa Imfa Idzalero and Agnes Munhumumwe

Bernard Chidzero was a Zimbabwean economist, writer and politician. He was Zimbabwe's Finance Minister (Minister of Economic Planning and Development) from 1980, then Minister of Finance from 1985 to 1995. He is also known for having run for secretary general of the United Nations in 1990. He was succeeded as Finance Minister by Ariston Chambati.

  • 1976 (Oct) - Appointed Economic Advisor, ANC, (Nkomo), Geneva
  • 1976 (Oct) - Appointed Political and Economic Advisor to ANC (Muzorewa), Geneva
  • 1980 - Member of Senate
  • 1980 - Minister of Economic Planning [1]

See Senate


Bernard Chidzero was born at Arlington Estate in Salisbury in 1927, the son of a Malawian immigrant and Shona mother. He was the eldest of seven children. Chidzero did his primary school at Jonasi-Chiremba-Mudiki, and moved to Kutama College for his secondary school where he was school mates with Robert Mugabe. It is said they were in the school band. After secondary he went to St Francis College, Marinahill, Natal in South Africa.[2]

In 1952 he joined Pius XII University College in Lesotho for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and then later went to University of Ottawa in Canada in 1955 to study Political Science, and then to McGill University in Montreal. He met his wife in Canada during studies and they later married in the UK at Nuffield College, Oxford, in 1958.[2]


In 1957 Chidzero published a Shona novel Nzvengamutsvairo (the name has been translated from Shona as "Mr Lazy-Bones" or "Broom-Dodger") which detailed the condition of workers on Rhodesian farms and set out his vision of an integrated, racially tolerant society.

Political Career

Armed with a grant from the Ford Foundation, Chidzero returned to Rhodesia in 1960, intending to teach at the University of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; his offer to work there was withdrawn when the segregated university discovered the interracial nature of Chidzero's marriage.

Chidzero joined the United Nations in 1960. He began in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as an economic affairs officer in Addis Ababa and from 1963 to 1968 as an assistant to the UN Technical Assistance Board in Kenya. From 1968 to 1980 Chidzero worked for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): from 1968 to 1977 he was the Director of Commodities and between 1977 and 1980 he served as UNCTAD's Deputy Secretary General.

After the 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Ian Smith, Chidzero played a role in the early liberation struggle negotiations for Zimbabwe. He was part of the advisory team when Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwe African People's Party, visited London. The collapse of those talks, resulting in the split of ZAPU and Zimbabwe African National Union, also marked a watershed in Chidzero's political allegiances. Increasingly, he teamed up with his former school- and band-mate Mugabe.

Aware of an impending war of liberation in Zimbabwe, in 1970, Chidzero bought a farm in Malawi and moved his father and kinsfolk out of Rhodesia. And on 21 December 1972 the first armed attack on a Rhodesian white settler took place in Centenary, Zambezi River escarpment. Meanwhile, during a visit to Malawi in 1972, Chidzero made overtures to his Pan African 'brother' and 'friend' Hastings Kamuzu Banda to settle in Malawi when his United Nations tenure would expire. Hastings Kamuzu Banda's response was an unequivocal refusal. Still, the farm in Malawi continued to serve, with the Malawi Government turning a blind eye, as an active Zimbabwean cell and staging point for many recruits heading for Morogoro training bases, in Tanzania.

Following the Lancaster House Agreement Chidzero returned to Zimbabwe and, in 1980, he became the Minister of Economic Planning and Development.

In the Zimbabwe 1985 Parliamentary Election, Harare - (the suburb, now Mbare) returned to Parliament:

Following the election he was promoted to be the Minister of Finance, succeeding Tichaendepi Masaya.

In the 1990 Parliamentary Election (see A History of Zimbabwean Elections) Harare Central returned to Parliament:

Turnout - 17 120 votes or 37.31 %

He was Chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank from 1986 to 1990. He was a member of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Back home he designed and implemented the Zimbabwean version of the Structural Adjustment Programme; in the process earning himself the wrath of certain ZANU-PF stalwarts who considered his economic programs ill-timed and denying them access to 'rewards of their war effort'.

In 1990, aware of the disaster that the Zimbabwean economy was headed for and vilified and accused for SAP's 'failures' by those within the ruling party, a frustrated Chidzero ran for election to the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations. Chidzero was supported by the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries, but was defeated by Boutros Boutros-Ghali.


  • Nzvengamutsvairo, 1957
  • Partnership in practice, Sword of the Spirit, 1960
  • Tanganyika and international trusteeship, Oxford University Press, 1961
  • The imperative of international co-operation, East African Publishing for East African Academy, 1966
  • Education and the challenge of independence, International University Exchange Fund, 1977


Chidzero's health began to fail in 1993 and he stepped down as finance minister in 1995. Bernard Chidzero died at the Avenues Clinic in Harare in 2002. He is buried in the Heroes Acre in Harare.


  1. [Diana Mitchell, African Nationalist Leaders in Zimbabwe: Who’s Who 1980], "African Nationalist Leaders in Zimbabwe: Who’s Who 1980, (Cannon Press, Salisbury, 1980), Retrieved: 16 November 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 Chidzero: Illustrious son of the soil , The Herald, Published: 20 July 2015, Retrieved: 2 Nov 2016