Chenjerai Hunzvi whose nom de guere during the Second Chimurenga was Hitler was a Zimbabwean politician who was born on 23 October 1969. He died on 4 June 2001 after successfully leading the war veterans under the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) to repossess farms owned by whites in a process which became known as the Third Chimurenga. Hunzvi was reported to be addicted to violence. He successfully lobbied Robert Mugabe (in November 1997), the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) to pay hefty packages to war veterans on the basis that they were not adequately compensated after the Second Chimurenga.
Hunzvi grew up in Chiminya village which is in Mashonaland East with his parents who eked a living through subsistence farming. He was arrested at the age of 16 for supporting the cause of the nationalists such as Joshua Nkomo, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira amongst others who were calling for the end of white minority rule in the then Rhodesia, present day Zimbabwe. He was released from prison and he subsequently became a guerrilla under the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) which was the military wing of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU).
After being incorporated into ZIPRA and or ZAPU, the leaders of the party realised that Hunzvi was a brilliant and intelligent cadre and it was agreed upon by the crème de la crème of the party that it was a noble idea to send him to school. It was then that he was sent to study in Romania after which he became fluent in French and Romanian. From Romania, he went to Poland where he studied medicine. It is along this line that Hunzvi has been dismissed as an opportunist who clawed his way to the top on the basis that he fought during the liberation struggle.
His Polish wife (who ran away because of domestic violence) professed that Hunzvi never fought during the liberation struggle. Hunzvi however stated that he was in ZAPU's war council. This claim is still controversial despite that he represented ZAPU during the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979.
From successfully representing ZAPU at the Lancaster House Agreement, Hunzvi returned back to Poland to finish his medical studies. In 1990, he returned back home and he joined Harare Central Hospital as a general practitioner. He also opened up a surgery in Budiriro in Harare.
Two years after settling in the country, Weislawa, his Polish wife ran away from him. Weislawa later revealed that her husband was a beast who abused her.
At the helm of the ZNLWVA
Hunzvi rose to fame when he became the leader and or chairman (from 1997 until the time of his death) of the ZNLWVA, an organisation which was formed to advance the plight of war veterans. He turned this organisation to become an arm of ZANU PF though it was formed and registered as a non-partisan entity.
Hunzvi piled pressure on Mugabe to compensate the war veterans handsomely threatening that if the needs of the war veterans were not met, they were to revert to violence. Initially Mugabe was reluctant to comply and war veterans under the banner of the ZNLWVA demonstrated against this unfair treatment.
In November 1997 Mugabe finally complied and issued hefty packages to the war veterans as well as introducing a system where they were to receive a monthly salary. This move has been generally pin pointed as having plunged the country into problems as the money which was issued to these war veterans was not budgeted.
Following this, the government established a fund which was specifically meant to address the needs of the war veterans. Credit was given to Hunzvi who brought this change which was however detrimental in the long run. In 1999, Hunzvi was arrested for embezzling the fund's money but his trail was postponed.
Spearheading the Third Chimurenga
Notwithstanding all the support he had registered with the war veterans, Hunzvi came up with a new plan which made him more popular. He spearheaded the invasion of white owned farms arguing that he was championing the rights of disenfranchised Africans since colonisation. Mugabe even admitted that Hunzvi was a pivotal player in the country's land reform which has since been received with mixed feelings amongst the general populace.
Prior to this, Hunzvi together with the war veterans had invaded more than 200 white owned factories and business under the auspices of solving labour disputes. After all this, Hunzvi began to be labelled as ZANU PF's campaign strategist who was influential during the 2000 elections.
During the 2000 election campaigns, Hunzvi working in cohorts with the ZNLWVA was accused of torturing, killing as well as inciting violence against members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which was the main opposition party in the country whose president was Morgan Tsvangirai. It has been allegedly claimed that more than 30 MDC members were murdered. Hunzvi was even quoted saying,
I am the biggest terrorist in Zimbabwe.
After the elections, Hunzvi became the Member of Parliament for Chikomba constituency and was never awarded any ministerial post, much to his disgust.
Hunzvi died on 4 June 2001 at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. The then Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. Timothy Stamps stated that Hunzvi died as a result liver failure which was related to cerebral malaria. Reports circulated however explaining that Hunzvi died as a result of an HIV and AIDS-related ailment. He was survived by 5 children from 3 different women. He was declared a national hero and was buried at the National Heroes Acre.
- Andrew Meldrum,Chenjerai Hunzvi, The Guardian, published:5 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"
- Ann M. Simmons, C. Hunzvi; Zimbabwean Activist, Los Angeles Times, published:5 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"
- Chenjerai Hunzvi, The Telegraph, published:6 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"
- Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi dies, Afrol News, published:4 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"
- Cde Chenjerai Hunzvi described as a born orator, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, published:11 Jun 2010,retrieved:"