Simon Muzenda

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Simon Muzenda
Simon Vengai Muzenda
Born(1922-10-22)October 22, 1922
DiedSeptember 20, 2003(2003-09-20) (aged 80)
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals
Cause of deathKidney Ailment
Resting placeNational Heroes Acre
  • Vice President
EmployerGovernment of Zimbabwe
Home townMasvingo
Political partyZimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front
Spouse(s)Maud Muzenda
ChildrenTongai, Tsitsi,

Simon Vengai Muzenda was a nationalist and veteran of the Second Chimurenga. He was elected to the House of Assembly in 1980. Muzenda was popularly known as Dr Mzee in political spheres though he was dubbed as the least educated member of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front's (ZANU PF) executive interim during his tenure in office. He was also referred to as the Soul of the Nation because he was always on a relentless mission to educate the nation about the history of the country through the poem, Nehanda Nyakasikana. Muzenda was the deputy prime minister and became the first vice president of Zimbabwe in 1987. Dr Mzee was always ridiculed for his clumsyness and lack of political savvy as well as his halting English.

  • 1953 - Secretary General, British African National Voice Association
  • 1961 - Chairman, Mvuma Branch of NDP
  • 1961 - Provincial Organising Secretary, Victoria (Masvingo) Province
  • 1962 - Provincial Administrative Secretary, ZAPU
  • 1964 - Deputy Organising Secretary, ZANU
  • 1971 - Secretary for Law and Order, ANC
  • 1972 - Deputy Administrative Secretary, ANC (Lusaka)
  • 1975 - Member Central committee, ZANU
  • 1980 - MP for Midlands, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister, Zimbabwe. [1]

Personal Details

'Born: 22 October 1922 in Gutu district. [1]
He was the son of a farmer.
Muzenda was a carpenter by profession.
Marriage: married in 1950 to Maud Muzenda, in Masvingo. She was a qualified nurse and together they had seven children. One daughter was lost in Chimoio raids.
Death: Muzenda died on 20 September 2003 at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals following a prolonged battle with a kidney ailment. [2]

School / Education

Primary: Nyamandi Primary School in Gutu, Masvingo in the care of his grandmother.[3]
In 1944, he moved to Domboshawa, where he was trained, from Standard 6. as a teacher. He became opposed to forced destocking, which occured again at later times. [1] He left this and went to Marianhill in Natal, South Africa, via teaching in Semukwe Reserve for four months, and Cape Town, where he stayed at St Mary's Cathedral, studying in the evenings. for a teacher training course.[3] It was then that his tutor advised him to focus on carpentry after he had shown his expertise in that sphere. He thus studied carpentry and he obtained a Diploma in Carpentry.[4]

Service / Career

At Marianhill he met James Chikerema, Mutero and George Silundika. [1]

In 1950, he returned and was fortunate enough to be employed at a furniture factory in Bulawayo. [3] Whilst in Bulawayo, he met Benjamin Burombo who was one of the main exponents of workers trade unions during that time.[3] He thus began to participate in trade unionism.

In 1955, he relocated to Umvuma (present day Mvuma), where he established his own carpentry business. [3] By then he was married to Maud.

Muzenda, though he was actively involved in trade unionism, he was not yet actively involved in nationalist movements. In 1953, he was Secretary General of The Voice (The British African National voice Association). Benjamin Burombo was President. In 1957, he was involved in the ANC. [1] When ZANU PF was formed in 1963, he joined the party and was appointed as the administrative secretary of the party.[3] In 1964, he was arrested after he had been appointed as the deputy organising secretary of the party. [3] He was detained, only to be released in 1971 and he went into exile first in Zambia and then Mozambique. He has been credited for helping Robert Mugabe to restructure the party after he had tried to help Joshua Nkomo restructure his own Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) though he failed.[4]

During the period of turmoil within ZANU PF during the Second Chimurenga, Muzenda is said to have played a pivotal role in trying to reconcile members of the party after numerous rifts had sprouted. It was reported that he visited almost every camp in Mozambique in a bid to quell friction amongst ZANU PF's cadres. [5] It is along this view in which it has been argued that Mugabe's ascent to power came about as a result of Muzenda's endless efforts.[5]

Post-Independence Era

In 1980, Muzenda was appointed by Robert Mugabe as his deputy Prime Minister. It has been argued that Mugabe was on a mission to reward Muzenda for his allegiance. [4] Muzenda was known for his unflagging and unreserved allegiance to Robert Mugabe. He was then appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs up to 1987 when he subsequently became the first vice president of Zimbabwe, a position which he held until the time of his death.

In the Zimbabwe 1985 Parliamentary Election, Gweru Urban returned to Parliament:

In the 1990 Parliamentary Election (see A History of Zimbabwean Elections) Gweru Central returned to Parliament:

Turnout - 20 173 voters or 52.54 %

In the 2000 Parliamentary Election (see A History of Zimbabwean Elections) Gutu North returned to Parliament:

When his health began to deteriorate, Muzenda was offered a package which was reported to be a generous one to resign but he was adamant. [5] He continued to carry on his duty as the vice president of the country though he went into oblivion for almost two years.

Following the death of Simon Muzenda in September 2003, a by election was held 25–2–3 February 2004. The result, Gutu North returned to Parliament:


Muzenda who was revered to as a no nonsense man during the liberation struggle began to draw criticism in the post independence era. In 1990, there was an attempted assassination of Patrick Kombayi who was a successful businessman and an ex-ZANU PF member. Kombayi's shooting was linked to his opposition of Muzenda for a parliamentary seat. [4] This tragic event tainted Muzenda's image to such an extent that his own tribe, the Karanga people, began to question his leadership and personality.[5]

The fact that Muzenda gave unreserved support to Mugabe even when he was advocating for what people termed as disastrous policies, also soiled Muzenda's image.

After the Third Chimurenga which occurred in 2000, Muzenda was entangled in a bitter conflict with the Commercial Farmers Union after he took over the Chindito Farm. [5] The farm however remained in his custody and the farmers union lost the battle.


Further Reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 [Diana Mitchell, African Nationalist Leaders in Zimbabwe: Who’s Who 1980], "African Nationalist Leaders in Zimbabwe: Who’s Who 1980, (Cannon Press, Salisbury, 1980), Retrieved: 16 November 2020
  2. Family, friends pay homage to Dr Mzee, September 23, 2013, Retrieved: July 30, 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 , Simon Muzenda, "Zim Legends":,retrieved:7 July 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Andrew Meldrum,Simon Muzenda Zimbabwean nationalist hero tainted by corruption, "The Guardian", published:23 Sep 2003,retrieved:7 July 2014"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 , Simon Muzenda, "SADOCC", published:22 Sep 2003,retrieved:7 July 2014"

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