Chenjerai Hunzvi

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Chenjerai Hunzvi

Chenjerai Hunzvi whose nom de guere during the Second Chimurenga was Hitler, was a Zimbabwean politician. He lead 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 to pay hefty packages to war veterans on the basis that they were not adequately compensated after the Second Chimurenga.

Personal Details

Born: 23 October 1969.
Grew up in Chiminya village Mashonaland East Province. His parents were subsistence farmers. [1]
Marriage: Weislawa, Polish woman, who ran away citing domestic violence. [2] At his death, he was survived by 5 children from 3 different women.
Death: 4 June 2001 at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. [3] 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. [2] 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. [4] He was declared a national hero and was buried at the National Heroes Acre.

School / Education

Sent to study in Romania. Then Poland. Studied medicine.


He was arrested at the age of 16 for supporting nationalism, of Joshua Nkomo, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira and others who were calling for the end of white minority rule in Rhodesia. [1] 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).[1]

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 party elite to send him to school. He was sent to study in Romania after which he became fluent in French and Romanian. [1] From Romania, he went to Poland where he studied medicine. [1] 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 professed that Hunzvi never fought during the liberation struggle. Hunzvi however stated that he was in ZAPU's war council. [2] This claim is still controversial although he represented ZAPU during the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979. [1]

Medical career

From successfully representing ZAPU at the Lancaster House Agreement, Hunzvi returned to Poland to finish his medical studies. In 1990, he returned home and he joined Harare Central Hospital as a general practitioner. [1] He also opened up a surgery in Budiriro in Harare.[1]

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. [2]


At the helm of the ZNLWVA

Hunzvi rose to fame when he became the leader and or chairman (from 1997 until his death) of the ZNLWVA, an organisation which was formed to advance the plight of war veterans. He turned this organisation into 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. [1] 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. [1] 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 1999, Hunzvi was arrested for embezzling the fund's money but his trail was postponed.[1]

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. [2] 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.[2]

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. [5] After all this, Hunzvi began to be labelled as Zanu PF's campaign strategist who was influential during the 2000 elections.

Election results

In the 2000 Elections, (see A History of Zimbabwean Elections) Chikomba returned to Parliament:

Following the death of Chenjerai Hunzvi on 4 June 2001, a by election was held 22–23 September 2001. The result, Chikomba returned to Parliament:

Torture Allegations

During the 2000 election campaigns, Hunzvi working in cohorts with 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. [3] Hunzvi was even quoted saying,

I am the biggest terrorist in Zimbabwe.[1]

After the elections, Hunzvi became the Member of Parliament for Chikomba constituency and was never awarded any ministerial post, much to his disgust. [4]

Further Reading


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Andrew Meldrum,Chenjerai Hunzvi, The Guardian, published:5 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Ann M. Simmons, C. Hunzvi; Zimbabwean Activist, Los Angeles Times, published:5 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi dies, Afrol News, published:4 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cde Chenjerai Hunzvi described as a born orator, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, published:11 Jun 2010,retrieved:"
  5. Chenjerai Hunzvi, The Telegraph, published:6 Jun 2001,retrieved:30 August 2014"

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