Lookout Masuku
Lieutenant General
Lookout Masuku, ZIPRA
The Late Lt. Gen. Lookout Masuku
Native nameLookout Masuku
BornLookout Khalisabantu Vumindaba Masuku
(1940-04-07)April 7, 1940
DiedApril 5, 1986(1986-04-05) (aged 45)
Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare
Cause of deathCryptococcal meningitis
Resting placeLady Stanley Cemetry, Bulawayo
Other namesMafela
OccupationMilitary Leader
EraSecond Chimurenga, Rhodesian Era
OrganizationZimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army
Known forLeading the Army
Notable workLeading the ZIPRA Forces
Opponent(s)Rhodesian Front Party
Spouse(s)Gift Masuku
ChildrenThokozile, Zakheleni

Lookout Khalisabantu Vumindaba Masuku was a former guerrilla leader and Deputy Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army. To his companions he was also called Mafela [1]


Lookout Masuku was born on the 7th of April 1940. He married Gift Masuku and together they had two children Thokozile and Zakhelini.

Military Career

During the Second Chimurenga Masuku was the commander of the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army, the military wing of ZAPU. He assumed command after the death of Alfred Nikitha Mangena in 1978. Masuku was commander from 1978 up to Independence in 1980. After independence, Masuku served as the Deputy Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army and held the rank of Lieutenant General. He was second only to General Solomon Mujuru. He held this post until his arrest in 1982.[2].

Arrest and Detention

In 1982 Lookout Masuku together with Dumiso Dabengwa the ZIPRA Intelligence chief were arrested for allegedly planning a coup d'état against then-Prime Minister Robert Mugabe. They were detained until 1983. In 1983 the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe found Masuku and Dumiso Debengwa not guilty of the charges. However, the police refused to release them and invoked emergency regulations, holding the for four years. On the 11th of March 1986, the government released Lookout Masuku and Vote Muza, a ZAPU official due to poor health.[1][3]

While in detention, Lookout Masuku and Dumiso Dabengwa wrote a letter to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe. Letter written to Mugabe by Masuku and Dabengwa


Masuku died on Saturday the 5th of April 1986 at 2 pm, at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare from Cryptococcal Menengitis, an inflammation of membranes covering the brain.. However, SW Radio Africa expressed doubt over the official cause of death. They described it as "suspicious."Judith Todd, in her book Through The Darkness, expressed doubts whether the “specialist who attended to him was “indeed a specialist or even a registered doctor at all”. The government denied Masuku the status of "National Hero."

Lt General Lookout Masuku was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo on Saturday 12th April 1986. Ten of thousands of people came to pay their last respects. Joshua Nkomo was the main speaker at the funeral and he gave one of the greatest speeches of his life. In his speech Nkomo said:

Mafela, Lookout after all his sacrifices, died a pauper in our own hands, we cannot blame colonialism and imperialism for this tragedy

...he is not being buried at the Heroes’ Acre. But they can’t take away his status as a hero. You don’t give a man the status of a hero. All you can do is recognise it. It is his.Yes, he can be forgotten temporarily by the state. But the young people who do research will one day unveil what Lookout has done.

You can read the entire speech here.

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