Simpson Victor Mutambanengwe

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Simpson Victor Mutambanengwe
Simpson Victor Mutambanengwe
BornSimpson Victor Mutambanengwe
DiedMay 10, 2017(2017-05-10)
  • Judge
Known forBeing a High Court Judge

Simpson Victor Mutambanengwe was a Zimbabwean high court judge, former Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson and liberation war fighter in the Second Chimurenga. He died on 10 May 2016 in Namibia.


He was born in December 1930 at the Old Umtali Mission in the Eastern Districts of Rhodesia. His father, a minister of the United Methodist Church, was a member of the Ndau tribe. Simpson was one of eight children (four boys and four girls), of whom one boy and one girl were twins. In 1967 he married a girl from Rhodesia (whom he met overseas) and they had three sons, all of whom were educated in Zambia. [1]


He was educated up to Standard VI at Mutambara Mission and then went to Goromonzi School where he obtained good results in both the ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels of the General Certificate of Education. After leaving school he taught for a year at the Old Umtali Mission. He entered the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1957, being one of the first students. He studied English and History (with Latin) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1959. For the first half of 1960 he again taught at Old Umtali.

In late 1960 he travelled to England where he gained admission to the Inner Temple. During his time in England he became President of the Zimbabwe Students’ Union which was at that time a strongly activist political body.[1]


He briefly practised on the bar in London, United Kingdom from 1963 to 1964 and was later admitted as an advocate to the then Rhodesian Bar in 1964. He then practised as an advocate and later as a legal practitioner in Zimbabwe from 1979 to 1986.

In 1986, he was appointed a High Court judge in Zimbabwe and later, in 1994, was appointed High Court judge in Namibia; on secondment by the Zimbabwean Government, where he also served on the Namibian Supreme Court bench.

Justice Mutambanengwe was appointed ZEC chairperson on March 31, 2010 in terms of Constitutional Amendment Number 19 (Act 1 of 2009), which was a result of the Global Political Agreement. He took over from Justice George Chiweshe who was later appointed Judge President of the High Court.

Mutambanengwe resigned from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on 11 February 2013 a few months before the referendum on the draft Constitution and harmonised elections slated for 2013. Mutambanengwe resigned on health reasons.[2]

However, Government sources interviewed at the time of Mutambanengwe's resignation said that he was allegedly pushed out of ZEC for his outspokenness and independent views by a Zanu-PF faction that viewed him as a danger to their political survival ahead of the 2013 elections. Sources said Mutambanengwe was summoned to the Ministry of Justice which was then under Patrick Chinamasa and forced to immediately step down purportedly on health grounds. The Zimbabwe Independent reported that Mutambanengwe neither had a known medical condition that were troubling him in the last two years nor had he been admitted to a medical institution at the time of his resignation. Another source revealed that the resignation was timed to coincide with the announcement of the date of the referendum. Chinamasa did not comment on the allegations. [3]

Liberation war contribution

He returned to Rhodesia in 1964 and at once studied for admission to the local Bar. In April he attended the ZANU congress in Gwelo and was elected Secretary for International Affairs. In July, after successfully sitting his Bar examinations, he travelled again to London where he took part in the protest gatherings at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference. With the majority of nationalist leaders by then in detention in Rhodesia, he decided to remain outside the country.

From 1964 he was engaged in political work, first in London and subsequently in Lusaka. He was a member of the ANC’s legal team at the Victoria Falls talks in August 1975. Following his return to Lusaka he was appointed to be in charge of diplomatic and international labour relations in the ZLC.

He was a member of the ANC delegation at the OAU summit conference in Kampala in july 1975 at which Idi Amin was elected President. It was announced on 15 October 1976 that he had been appointed a member of the delegation from the ANC (Muzorewa) to the Geneva conference.[1]

Support for the Nhari Rebellion

Mutambanengwe allegedly supported the Nhari Rebellion during the liberation struggle.[3]


He died on 10 May 2017 night in Namibia and he was 87.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Robert Cary and Diana Mitchell, African Nationalist Leaders in Rhodesia - Who's Who » Page 'SIMPSON VICTOR MTAMBANENGWE', African Nationalist Leaders in Rhodesia – Who's Who, published: No Date Given, retrieved: May 11, 2017
  2. Felex Share, ZEC boss resigns, Herald, published: February 12, 2013, retrieved: May 11, 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zanu PF pushes out Zec boss …, Zimbabwe Independent, published: Fenbruary 15, 2013, retrieved: May 11, 2017
  4. Daniel Nemukuyu, BREAKING NEWS: Justice Mutambanengwe dies, Herald, published: May 11, 2017, retrieved: May 11, 2017