Facing off against ‘Mugabe’s Personal Bodyguard’: The stakes are high for Beitbridge-East CCC candidate – Renatho ‘Tsumbo’ Ndou

By Delta Milayo Ndou

When Renatho ‘Tsumbo’ Ndou, was nominated by the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) to run for Member of Parliament for Beitbridge-East constituency, he summoned me home after being away for 3 years. As the youngest of my late father’s siblings, his summons carried due weight.

From the word go, I was frustrated by his decision to accept the nomination to run for Member of Parliament because I feared for him. Was he not aware of the very real risks of political persecution? He hadn’t even asked the rest of us for our opinions as his relatives – and I, for one, always have an opinion.  

My anxiety was further exacerbated by learning who his political opponent was. My uncle would be facing off against ZANU PF’s Albert Nguluvhe, the former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director for security, whose 2018 manifesto consisted of telling anyone that would listen how he had been ‘Mugabe’s personal bodyguard’.

Again, I wondered, why would my uncle feel compelled to self-sacrifice at the altar of politics?

When I shared my misgivings, my uncle’s response was typical of a deeply sentimental man with a profound, if exasperating, sense of destiny. People with a strong sense of destiny are notoriously difficult to deter because they have the courage of their convictions.

In response to my grilling, my uncle insisted; “No one is coming, Miya Simphiwe. No one. No one is coming to save us. We should save ourselves, save our country and stand up to defend what we believe in. The children are 22, 17 and 13. I want them to enjoy a better life here at home than have them escaping because the country has been ruined. Where will they go? How high can they rise before they encounter hostility in foreign lands? There is always a ceiling to how far you can rise without inviting resentment as a foreigner, but when you rise at home you invite praise and pride because we claim you as ours – we say ‘hoyo ndi wa vhorine’ (that one belongs to us).”

My uncle has stayed in Beitbridge and remained in Zimbabwe, even when he amassed enough resources to leave. It baffled me. As a businessman, he lives with the apprehension of knowing that financial ruin is always one ill-fated Statutory Instrument away. How can anyone have peace of mind where countless forms of injustice abound? And why stay, let alone fight?

In Beitbridge, my uncle is popularly known as ‘Tsumbo’ (a Venda term for ‘being exemplary’ or a word that speaks to ‘legacy’). It is a fitting moniker for a legacy-oriented man whose personal crusade to uplift the Beitbridge community, combined with his staunch Christian faith, now coincides with a political moment requiring all the spiritual belief he can muster.

I imagine Beitbridge nominated Renatho Ndou as their representative because they know and trust him. So, I am not writing to persuade Beitbridge that he is worth supporting. I am writing about why I think the stakes are high for him.

For starters, he cares too much.

Back in August 2019, the government declared the 2018/19 drought season ‘a State of National Disaster’. Long before that, villagers in Beitbridge (who did not need a formal declaration to confirm the catastrophe of their lived reality) had done what many Zimbabweans are wont to do when the going gets tough – ‘make a plan’.

The plan was desperate but sound. To gather as many of the emaciated cattle as possible and strike an integrative (win-win) collective bargain type of deal with a businessman that owned butcheries in Beitbridge town, in hopes that villagers would at least get something for their livestock rather than let the cattle die.

My uncle was the businessman they approached, and he turned down their offer. Instead, a combination of empathy and some ingenuity, moved him to counter their offer with a better one: he offered livestock feed to the villagers and use of his rural cattle pen feeding facility.

Only after the cattle gained significant mass, got weighed to determine a fair price, only then, did my uncle purchase them – having deducted the cost of the livestock feed he had advanced.

His logic was simple, and his sense of moral duty was unyielding. It would have been unspeakably cruel to exploit the desperation of villagers whose emaciated livestock represented the totality of all they owned. He cared a lot.

My uncle is emotionally invested in the welfare of Beitbridge’s communities, especially minority groups.

A few years back, he grew concerned over the fact that homes in Beitbridge town and its environs were increasingly being owned by non-Beitbridge dwellers – whilst Beitbridge-born minority groups such as Vendas, Pfumbis, and Sothos were financially excluded as their main asset was livestock rather than liquid cash.

Again, his empathy inspired some ingenuity. My uncle took it as a personal crusade to traverse the length and breadth of rural Beitbridge and address communities on the value of investing in immovable assets such as houses in town.

He encouraged the communities to make the effort to buy land in Beitbridge town and its environs – even making appeals to their children in South Africa and other countries. On his part, he pledged to build houses for those who purchased land, and he would accept payment in the form of 15 cattle because livestock is the more accessible ‘asset’ by which villagers can transact.

He kept his word. Over the years, scores of native Venda-speaking, Pfumbi-speaking and Sotho-speaking families have slowly found their names on the home ownership records of Beitbridge town – becoming landlords/landladies after years of exclusion. 

He never needed the title of Member of Parliament to serve his community – he only needed to care.

My uncle doesn’t have a high-sounding title like that of being ‘Mugabe’s personal bodyguard’, but he has been – and will remain – a caring, trusted, and humble community leader. What little he has managed to accomplish out of his own initiative, using his own resources and acting of his own volition before being nominated by the CCC, spells out how deeply he cares – and how much Beitbridge deserves a selfless leader like him.

Although I have my reservations about the path he has chosen, I would never let him walk it alone, so I appointed myself the fundraising coordinator for his campaign pro bono (because I know my uncle would be reluctant to ‘bother people’). I take the role rather seriously because it is my way of showing solidarity.

I would hate to repay my uncle’s courage with indifference, and I hope that neither will you, dear reader. Facing off against ‘Mugabe’s personal bodyguard’ will require a few more hands on deck – so please consider helping the cause.

The Beitbridge East constituency – following the delimitation exercise – now consists of 10 wards and 7 of those wards are in rural areas, a few of them quite remote. The CCC has rightly determined that the rural vote is the true battleground of this electoral contest – with emphasis on defending the vote by mapping and manning all polling stations.

My hope is that some of you readers will be interested in contributing to the Beitbridge East campaign in any of the following ways:

$0,25 for a poster (so $5 would cover 20 posters).

$5.00 for a t-shirt (currently CCC t-shirts are going for $10 from entrepreneurial private sellers).

$3.00 to feed one campaign volunteer per day (we currently have a team of 5 full time).

$1.65 for a litre of fuel (the furthest Beitbridge-East polling station would require 50liters of fuel to get to as the rural terrain is rough, our mapping has stalled as a result, but we have mapped 26 out of 50 polling stations so far).

Adopt-a-polling-station (none of the 50 Beitbridge-East polling stations are funded), you can do so via the platform.

The Beitbridge-East constituency will need about at least 100 agents (a minimum of 2 per polling station) requiring at least $150 to train and deploy.

To contact the campaign:

Get in touch on Twitter: @RenathoNdou and/or @MilayoNdou

WhatsApp: +268 7976 4670

To donate directly go to:

To find out more about the candidate visit:

For additional information on fundraising and volunteering, email:

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