James Makamba
James Makamba.jpg
James Makamba
BornJames Chafungamoyo Makamba
(1952-01-01) January 1, 1952 (age 70)
Madziva Reserve, Shamva, Zimbabwe
  • Entrepreneur
  • Politician
  • Radio Presenter
  • Farmer
  • Entrepreneur
Spouse(s)Irene Makamba
ChildrenChiedza Makamba (late), Kushinga Makamba, Tawanda Makamba, Zororo Makamba (late)

James Chafungamoyo Makamba is a Zimbabwean entrepreneur, politician and former commercial broadcaster. Makamba established a consultancy business which represented the corporation in various sectors in a number of African countries.[1] Makamba is the current chairman of Telecel Zimbabwe, a telecommunications company in which he has a stake. In February 2018, Makamba indicated that he want to run for the parliamentary seat which was left vacant after the expulsion of Saviour Kasukuwere.

In 2017 Makamba arrived back in Zimbabwe after spending more than 10 years in self-imposed exile. Makamba left the country in 2005, after being arrested for allegedly illegally dealing in foreign currency without a license. [2]


James Chafungamoyo Makamba was born on 1 January 1952 in the gold mining town of Shamva. He was the youngest of ten children (four boys, six girls), and grew up in Shamva,[3] Madziva Reserve area[4] where his father ran a small business ploughing people's crop fields on contract and owned a grinding mill.[4] Makamba is married to Irene Makamba. Together they have 4 children, 2 boys (Zororo Makamba | Zororo, a radio presenter and Tawanda) and 2 girls, (Chiyedza and Kushinga). Chiyedza died in a car crash in Zimbabwe in 2011 but Makamba, who was still in exile, could not attend the funeral.[5] After completing school Makamba worked at the Catholic church in the then Salisbury and contemplated joining priesthood but his mother refused.

Education and Early Career

Makamba attended Mupfurudzi Primary School. Later, his family moved to Chesa and there he attended the Kujuwara School near Mount Darwin. Eventually one of his elder brothers, Raphael, invited him to live with his family in Tomlinson Depot, Harare, where he finished his upper primary education.[3] During this time Makamba started participating in schools broadcasts at the Department of Education's Audio Visual Services center. The manager of this place, one Cephas Rangwani, encouraged Makamba to audition with Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation (RBC). he got the job and worked as a voice for commercials.[4] Makamba as an enterprising freelancer did advertising and Marketing promotions for established indigenous entrepreneurs such as Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo.


From the popularity he got as a radio personality Makamba decided to join politics first becoming a Councillor, and then Town Board Chairman. Makamba then became the publicity secretary of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu- PF) in Mashonaland Central Province. Eventually, he was appointed to the Zanu-PF Central Committee, a decision-making body of the party.

Quitting Politics

In 2013, during an interview on SABC News' Up Close programme, James Makamba said he would no longer participate in politics as he was focused on community and business development. He said:

"This is it. Some people must participate in politics. Some people must participate in business. Some people must participate in community development. I did my bit in politics I am now focused on this, the community development, the business development, breaking down trading barriers and making use of the many many contacts I accumulated over the years. So no to Mr Politics"


BlackBerry Productions

Makamba was involved in a business called BlackBerry Productions.[4]

Joy TV

In the 90s while he was still a radio personality, the government decided to shut down an education TV channel. Makamba saw an opportunity to start a commercial television broadcasting business and came up with a consortium of friends and associates to take over the channel from the government. They renamed it Joy TV. They ran it for six years before being refused a license renewal by the government in 2002.[7]

It was believed that Joy TV was refused a license as their programming was viewed as sympathetic to the new MDC opposition party.[8]


Makamba was employed by Lonrho as a government relations consultant[3] based out of the UK.[4]


Makamba also had interests in the retail sector, owning a number of supermarkets in Harare. Blue Ridge shopping centre in Mazowe was recently returned to him by Zimbabwe government.

Telecel Zimbabwe

Please follow this link for the full article on Telecel Zimbabwe.

While at Lonrho, Makamba met Miko Rwayitare a Rwandan born co-founder of Telecel and Joel Gutt his partner. The two were building his telecoms business in Africa. Makamba says Miko was brought to him by a friend in telecoms industry.[4] Together they established Telecel Zimbabwe.

Makamba, through his investment company, Kestrel Corporation, was part of a consortium known as the Empowerment Corporation of Zimbabwe (EC), which became 60% owner in Telecel. The rest, 40%, was owned by Telecel International.[9]

EC itself was a result of an organization called Zimbabwe Wealth Creation Council which was formed in 1996. It was essentially a black people empowerment organization. Members of the council were Indigenous Business Women's Organisation (IBWO), National Miners' Association, Affirmative Action Group (AAG), the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA), the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), Integrated Engineering Group (IEG) owned by Leo Mugabe and Kestrel Corporation, Makamba's company.[9]

When the license was issued, the allocation of shares was made as follows; Kestrel 15%, IEG 10% while ZFU, IBWO, National Miners Association, AAG and War Veterans Association were given 9% each. All issued shares, therefore, accounted for 70% of the EC. The remaining 30% of the shares were warehoused. These EC members were then supposed to pay for the shares, but only a few managed to subscribe. A resolution was made, allowing individuals within the organization (such as Phillip Chiyangwa president of the Affirmative Action Group, Jane Mutasa of the Indigenous Businesswomen Organisation and so on...) to pay for the transactions.[9]

Phillip Chiyangwa bought shares through his Native Investments while Mutasa bought shares using her investment vehicle Selpon. Apart from Makamba's Kestrel Corporation, eventually only IBWO and the War Veterans Association collectively subscribed to shares below 3 percent. Chiyangwa however later disposed of his shareholding to Makamba.[9]

Final shareholding as of March 2011 would see Mutasa owning 22%, IBWO and National Miners Association sharing 3% and Kestrel the remainder 75%.[9]

Fraudulent allocation of shares

Mutasa has claimed in media reports that a resolution regarding unsubscribed shares was then supposed to be taken by the Empowerment Corporation. Mutasa has also claimed that during this time, Makamba allocated himself the unsubscribed shares including the warehoused 30%, the result being that he now owned 75% of EC. Makamba, Mutasa said, then sold EC's 20% stake in Telecel Zimbabwe to Telecel International.[9]

In June 2013, it was reported that a war veterans’ company Magamba eChimurenga Housing Scheme was contemplating legal action against Makamba for allegedly fraudulently acquiring its shares in Telecel Zimbabwe on behalf of Telecel International. Magamba wanted the 20% of Empowerment Corporation which was acquired by Telecel International through Makamba and a further 30% of Empowerment Corporation’s Telecel Zimbabwe shares which Makamba allegedly “gave himself without due process of business law”. Magamba claimed that it had previously raised its concerns with Makamba in letters dated November 6, 2000, and February 6, 2000, after they discovered that Makamba had manipulated his accountant to twist systems and undervalue shares to favour Makamba over other stakeholders.[10]

Failure To Pay Back Absa Loan

In 2018, there was a report that James Makamba was set to lose his mansion in Johannesburg for defaulting on a multi-million dollar loan.

According to a report by South Africa’s Sunday Times, Makamba owed Absa $4.5-million for home loans, credit cards and car payments. He had put up his Sandhurst mansion, Villa Royale, as collateral for the loan.

The 5-bedroom mansion which had its own wine cellar and private chef at the time cost more than $6,500 a night to rent and had in the past accommodated American rapper, Nicki Minaj.

Makamba had made efforts to fulfil his loan obligations in order to avoid having his Sandhurst property repossessed. In October 2017, he reportedly tried to make a payment of $1 million to a local South African account nominated by Absa, by making use of Treasury instruments he held worth $20 million.[11]

Allegations of Corruption

President Robert Mugabe is said to have issued a warning to Makamba after he built a supermarket on an occupied farm in the Mazowe area without a council permit or any approval for his business plan. Mugabe is reported to have said: "We have people just building shops without authority. You should have the correct license and proper registration. If you fall short of that then that business is illegal." He was later arrested on charges of contravening exchange regulations.[7]

Arrest over Exchange Regulations

On February 9, 2004, while Zimbabwe was facing it's worst economic decline, Makamba was arrested during a financial crackdown that targeted dozens of businessmen alleged to have externalized foreign currency.[5] The offence that he was charged with was that he had changed foreign currency on the parallel market instead of taking this money to the bank and have it changed at the official rate of exchange.

He spent more than 6 months in custody and was denied bail more than 13 times.[12]

Makamba pleaded guilty in the regional court to the first six counts of contravening s 4(1)(a)(I) of the Regulations, in that he sold foreign currency to Telecel Zimbabwe an unauthorized dealer. He paid a fine.[13] To the other five counts alleging the contravention of s 11(1)(a) of the Regulations in that being a Zimbabwean resident without the authority of the exchange control authority, he unlawfully made payments outside Zimbabwe, Makamba pleaded not guilty.[14] After he eventually got bail he fled into exile in 2005,Cite error: The opening <ref> tag is malformed or has a bad name first to Egypt,[15] and then to the London.


It was rumored that when Makamba fled Zimbabwe in 2005, it was not just for the business persecution, but that he had had an affair with the former First Lady, Grace Mugabe. This was cited as the reason he remained in exile even after being freed in 2009.[5][12]

In December 2013 the then Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said Makamba was free to return to Zimbabwe as there was no need for him to be in exile.[16] "Zimbabwe is a peaceful country and everyone is welcome to come but if there is something wrong he (Mr. Makamba) did then maybe he would be afraid to come but it will be only him who knows that," he said.

Political Ambitions

It was reported that Makamba had ambitions to be Harare mayor. Despite winning Zanu-PF primaries, he pulled out of the elections citing business commitments. He had previously failed to produce his O’ Level certificate and was twice prevented from standing in 1996 and 1999 by Zanu PF’s decision making organ – the Politburo.[7]

In February 2018, Makamba indicated that he would run for the parliamentary seat which was left vacant after the expulsion of Saviour Kasukuwere. Kasukuwere and other members of the G40 Faction were expelled from Zanu-PF with some of them getting life bans after former president Robert Mugabe was ousted in November 2017. Makamba ran against ZBC senior reporters Tendai Munengwa and Andrew Neshamba as well as Zanu-PF Youth League youth national political commissar, Godfrey Tsenengamu.[17]

James Makamba was disqualified after an audio clip leaked where he was heard plotting a sponsored smear campaign against fellow Zanu-PF members in the press. Makamba admitted that the voice in the audio clip was his although he said a lot of editing had been done.

Earlier, Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson Kazembe Kazembe had announced that Makamba had been disqualified because he did not meet the criteria set for aspiring candidates to contest in the party primary elections.[18]

Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central Provincial Chairmanship

In 2021, James Makamba contested ZANU-PF’s Mashonaland Central provincial chairman post.

In December 2021, Makamba was reportedly disqualified by the Zanu-PF politburo after his candidature was roundly dismissed by Zimbabwe’s security chiefs, especially over his alleged previous romantic affair with Grace Mugabe.

After his disqualification, Makamba rallied behind Kazembe Kazembe whom he had criticised. As a result, Makamba's supporters deserted him and supported Tafadzwa Musarara.[19][20]

Picture Gallery


  1. James Makamba Millionaire Zimbabwe, African Millionaire, Retrieved:23 March 2014
  2. [1], James Makamba Returns To Zim After Self-Imposed Exile, Published:13 December 2017 , Retrieved: 8 February 2018
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 James Makamba, James Makamba, James Makamba Official Website, Retrieved:24 March 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Tshepang Motsekuoa, Up Close with James Makamba, SABC News, Published: 18 September 2013, Retrieved:23 March 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lance Guma, Exiled James Makamba misses daughter’s funeral, SW Radio Africa, Published:22 December 2011, Retrieved:23 March 2014
  6. Up Close with James Makamba, YouTube, Published: September 18, 2013, Retrieved: May 13, 2022
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Makamba arrested over forex deals, New Zimbabwe, Published:10 February 2004, Retrieved:23 March 2014
  8. Rejoice Ngwenya, Zimbabwe - A Day in a Life of Mr. Average, Modern Ghana, Published:24 July 2008, Retrieved:24 March 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Telecel exposed, The Herald, Published:17 March 2011, Retrieved:24 March 2014
  10. Herbert Moyo, War vets mull suing Makamba, Zimbabwe Independent, Published:28 June 2013, Retrieved:24 March 2014
  11. Mfonobong Nsehe, Zimbabwean Tycoon James Makamba To Lose South African Mansion Over $4.5 Million Debt, Forbes Africa, Published: June 12, 2018, Retrieved: April 6, 2022
  12. 12.0 12.1 James Makamba, False media allegations, James Makamba official website, Retrieved:23 March 2014
  14. Attorney General v Makamba (19/04), Zimbabwe legal Information Institute, Judgement Date: 29 July 2005, Retrieved:23 March 2014
  15. The Herald: 24 August 2005
  16. Pius Shereni, James Makamba Free to Return To Zimbabwe – Mnangagwa, ZimEye, Published:6 December 213, Retrieved:23 March 2014
  17. James Makamba To Contest For Saviour Kasukuwere’s Seat, Pindula News, Published: February 2, 2018, Retrieved: January 1, 2022
  18. Zanu-PF Confirms James Makamba’s Disqualification From Primary Elections, Pindula News, Published: April 30, 2018, Retrieved: January 1, 2022
  19. Andrew Kunambura, Makamba Bites The Dust In Zanu PF Chairmanship Race, NewZimbabwe.com, Published: December 22, 2021, Retrieved: January 1, 2022
  20. Leopold Munhende, Makamba Supporters Desert Him As He Endorses Kazembe Kazembe, NewZimbabwe.com, Published: December 27, 2021, Retrieved: January 1, 2021