Vitalis Musungwa Gava Zvinavashe was a retired General who served in the Zimbabwe National Army from its inception in 1980. He was born on 27 September 1943 and died on 10 March 2009. He was declared a National hero and buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare for his role during and after the Second Chimurenga.
Early Education and Background
Zvinavashe was born and raised in the Zinhata Kraal of Gutu district Masvingo province. He attended Masema primary school for his lower primary education. He subsequently relocated to Jersey Tea Estate Primary School in Chipinge district of Manicaland province were he completed his primary education.
Life as a Guerrilla
Zvinavashe trained as a soldier at Chunya camp in Tanzania in 1967. He belonged to the first crop of locals to train as guerrillas to fight against the Rhodesian Front led by Ian Smith. He was then deployed to Zambia during the same year , together with other nationalists, began to make inroads for the liberation struggle.
In 1970, he was elected a member of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) Military Council and Commander of the Botswana-Zambia Border and two years later he was appointed a member of the High Command and provincial secretary of the Malawi-Mozambique-Zimbabwe Front until 1974.
Zvinavashe's Chimurenga name was Sheba Gava. In 1976, Zvinavashe who was also known as Fox, held two portfolios; deputy chief of military security and intelligence of ZANLA and acting provincial commander of Tete Province after which he was subsequently elected a member of the ZANU PF's central committee as deputy chief of National Security and Intelligence at a time Zimbabwe was under extreme hostile pressure from the colonialists. He occupied that position until the ceasefire declared to start on December 29, 1979 and after the Lancaster House Agreement.
Post Independence Period
At Independence, Zvinavashe briefly worked in the Prime Minister Robert Mugabe's Department and was later appointed a member of the Joint High Command mandated to oversee the integration of the three armies, ZANLA, ZIPRA and the Rhodesian Forces into one army, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).
Zvinavashe was attested into the ZNA as Brigadier General on December 1, 1980 after he was appointed Commander 3 brigade. On January 1, 1983 he was promoted to Major General and Chief of Staff at ZNA Headquarters.He took over command on the ZNA on June 1, 1992 after General Solomon Mujuru retired and was appointed Lieutenant-General.
After a Constitutional Amendment on July 1, 1994, Zvinavashe became the first Commander of the Defence Forces as General. He was also a member of Parliament for Gutu Constituency up to 2007. he also held a position in the Central Committee of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF).
- Liberation Decoration Golden award
- Independence Medal
- Ten years Service medal
- Examplary Service medal
- Mozambique Campaign Award
- The University of Zimbabwe conferred him the Honourary Doctorate of Letters Degree
- Grand Commander of the Zimbabwe Order of Merit Award
Soon after his retirement, Zvinavashe began to concentrate on his businesses. The most notable was the Tynwald group of schools which included a nursery school, Primary School and High School founded in 2001. He also owned a transport company. Zvinavashe was also a commercial farmer and he owned an estate in Harare at Cold Comfort Farm.
Zvinavashe is mentioned in the UN security council report Plundering of DR Congo natural resources: Final report of the Panel of Experts (S/2002/1146), paragraph 27, as the Executive Chairman of COSLEG, and key ally of Emmerson Mnangagwa. The General and his family have been involved in diamond trading and supply contracts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. <ref name="Plundering of DR Congo natural resources: Final report of the Panel of Experts (S/2002/1146)"> , UN Security Council, Published: 16 October 2002, Retrieved: August 2019
- L. Nkathazo Former army chief Zvinavashe dies, "NewZimbabwe.com", published:10 Mar 2009,retrieved:7 Jul 2014 "
- , Founder, "Tynwald High School",retrieved:7 Jul 2014"
- , Retired Zimbabwe Army general Zvinavashe has died, "The Zim diaspora", published:10 Mar 2009,retrieved:7 Jul 2014"
- , Vitalis Zvinavashe, retrieved:7 Jul 2014"