Edson Sithole

Edson Furatidzai Chisingaitwi Sithole was a politician, a nationalist leader and the second black barrister in the then Southern Rhodesia present day Zimbabwe. He was born on 5 June 1935 and was abducted on 15 October 1975 together with his secretary, Miriam Mhlanga. Since then they were never unheard of. There is however an empty grave of Sithole at the National Heroes Acre. He was Ndabaningi Sithole's cousin who defected from the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) to join Abel Muzorewa's United African National Congress (UANC).


Edson was born in 1935, and he grew up in the southern part of Mutare, where the Ndau are mailny concentrated and in 1943, his family relocated to Bikita, in Masvingo.[1] In Bikita, Sithole was enrolled for his primary education and he was forced to leave school in 1947 because of financial constrains. In 1949, he resumed his studies and he attended Chikore Mission where he passed his Standard 4 with impressive results.[2] He was then inspired to pursue his studies up to Standard 6.

In 1950, he relocated to Umtali, (present day Mutare) where he was determined to complete his Standard 6.[2] This was a dream deferred. In 1951, he relocated to Salisbury, (present day Harare) where he began to participate in campaigns organised by aspiring nationalists.[1]

Political career

Upon arriving in Salisbury, he was fortunate enough to get a job. He was initially employed as a tea boy, then as a waiter and in a cloth manufacturing factory. He was in a bid to raise funds to enable him to complete Standard 6 which he completed after enrolling at St Peter's High School's (in Highfield) night school.[2]

He joined the Nyasaland African National Congress (NANC) in the last quarter of 1951, launching his political career.[2] He participated in the campaigns organised by the NANC between 1951-1952. In 1952, he joined the African Newspapers as a vendor and he was promoted to be a clerk in 1953. The following year, he completed his Junior Certificate and in 1957, he had also successfully completed his Advanced Level studies.[2]

In 1955, the idea of forming a political party was booming in Salisbury. The end result was the formation of the African National Youth League (ANYL). Sithole was one of the founding members of the ANYL and he was appointed as the Secretary General of the party.[2] The following year he joined the American Board Missions.[2] He was acting as an undercover agent as he had disguised himself as not being a member of any political party. In 1957 he relocated to Salisbury, was arrested in 1959 and was released in 1962.

Sithole like many other nationalists pursued his studies whilst in detention. He studied for a Bachelors Degree in Law with the University of London. By June 1962 he had successfully completed his studies.[2] It was then that he sat for the Rhodesian Bar Examination which he passed in April 1963 and was allowed to practise as a barrister becoming the second black barrister in Rhodesia after Herbert Chitepo.[2]

Sithole was sceptical of Joshua Nkomo's leadership. When he was released, he formed the Zimbabwe National Party (ZNP) together with other nationalists leaders who detested Nkomo.[2] ZNP was short lived and in September 1962, it joined forces with the Southern Rhodesian African Trades Union Congress to form the Pan-African Socialist Union (PASU) which collapsed in December 1962.[2]

When ZANU was formed in 1963, Sithole joined the party and in 1964 after the party's first Congress in Gwelo (present day Gweru). He was appointed as the Publicity Secretary.[1] In 1965, he was detained and whilst in prison he began to study for a Masters Degree in Law with the University of London, which he passed.[1] The following year, he registered with the University of South Africa pursuing a doctorate degree.[2] He completed his studies in May 1974. He then defected from ZANU to join UANC.

His Abduction

Sithole was kidnapped outside the Bird and Bottle Restaurant in Salisbury.[1] On 19 October 1975.[3] It was reported that this happened after there was a crisis within Muzorewa's camp. It was allegedly claimed that he was kidnapped by the Selous Scouts who later killed him and deposited his body in an unused mine shaft.[1] It was also rumoured that these scouts were working in cahoots with Muzorewa.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Geoff Hill, Who murdered Edson Sithole?, The Independent, published:13 Oct 2009,retrieved:16 July 2014"
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Robert Cary and Diana Mitchell, Dr Edson Furatidzayi Chisingaitwi Sithole, Colonial Relic, published:1977,retrieved:16 July 2014"
  3. [Katherine Sayce (Ed), Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe], Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe, (Quest Publishing, Harare, 1987), Retrieved: 25 July 2019