|Born||Eric Nyakudya Gwanzura|
October 23, 1924
Mashonganyika Village, Zvimba
|Died||December 9, 2013 (aged 89)|
|Resting place||National Heroes Acre|
|Education||Govathema Primary School, St Francis Xavier’s Kutama College|
|Known for||Construction of Gwanzura Stadium for recreational services for blacks|
|Political party||Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front|
|Opponent(s)||Movement for Democratic Change|
Eric Nyakudya Gwanzura was a Zimbabwean veteran politician and liberation war icon. He was a member of Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF). He was a trade unionist and the stadium (Gwanzura in Harare) was named after him. Gwanzura was a Zanu-PF founding member, Central Committee member and a former Senator in the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
Gwanzura was born on the 23rd of October in 1924 in Mashonaland West Province.. He attended Govathema Primary School before he went to St Francis Xavier’s Kutama College for his secondary education, where late former President Robert Mugabe was also a student. He later went to Waddilove were he trained as a builder. Gwanzura worked as a teacher at Sandringham High School where he taught for two years before moving to Kawara Primary School, a Salvation Army institution in Mhondoro, where he also taught for two years.
He moved to the then Salisbury (now Harare) where he started a construction company that built houses and barns and it was during this period that he got involved in national politics. At the invitation of a Major Lewis of the Salvation Army, he went to Bulawayo to work at Usher Institute in Matabeleland where he was tasked with assisting in infrastructure development. He was one of the founding members of the National Democratic Party (NDP), together with revolutionaries such as the late former President Robert Mugabe, the late Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa, Cde Paul Mushonga, Cde George Silundika and Cde Jason Ziyapapa Moyo.
Often he had to travel to Zambia to brief the leadership in exile and to get instructions to give to fighers and politicians in Zimbabwe. He was part of the delegations that went to the Geneva Conference and the Lancaster House talks. After the Lancaster House talks he settled in Chegutu where he bought Café Capri. It was not by chance or a purely business decision to buy Café Capri: during colonial times he had refused to buy a pie from that establishment using a window marked “For natives only”, and was arrested for his act of defiance.
Along with Reuben Jamela, Gwanzura spearheaded the formalisation of unionism in the then Rhodesia to achieve empowerment of workers. Under the leadership of the two, trade unionism became a force to reckon with in the region and linkages were established with other similar organisations in Southern Africa. As succh, Gwanzura’s direct contribution to the struggle for independence was first as a trade unionist. He was at the forefront of the empowerment of workers through organising industrial actions such as the famous strike of 1960.
At that point the trade union movement in Rhodesia had attracted the interest of other leaders such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah who invited him to his country to collaborate with fellow West African unionists. Because of Gwanzura’s roles as a trade unionist and a political activist within the NDP, he became one of the Rhodesian regime’s most wanted people and he – along with other luminaries – was classified as an enemy of the government.
Eric Gwanzura served as a Senator in the new Parliament of Zimbabwe and was a member of the Chairman’s Panel as Deputy Chairman of Committees. Gwanzura was also active in the processes leading up to the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987.
He was active in the Zanu-PF Mashonaland West provincial structures and was a national Central Committee member. With his brother Phanuel, they developed a stadium in Highfield, which was to be named Gwanzura Stadium.
He was survived by two wives and 23 children.
- Hebert Zharare and Marcia Gore, , Published: 12 December 2013, Retrieved: 12 February 2020"