ZAPU chairman Mark Mbayiwa dies

ZAPU national chairman and businessperson, Mark Mbayiwa, a political trailblazer who fought against injustice both before and after Independence, died Saturday in Bulawayo.

He was 66.

The party confirmed Mbayiwa’s death after he collapsed at his home in Morningside around 10pm.

“It is with a deep sense of sorrow that we learnt of the passing of our Party Chairperson Cde. Mark Nzula Mbayiwa last night. As a party, we are still in shock at his sudden demise since Cde. Mbayiwa attended all party related activities yesterday including an evening Presidency meeting,” said ZAPU secretary general, Mthulisi Hanana.

Hanana lamented that ZAPU has lost a great, committed cadre, leader, mentor, torchbearer and an unflinching revolutionary.

“We have lost a dependable comrade, a reservoir of party history and a fountain of knowledge. We are poorer without him. Cde Mbayiwa is one of the senior leaders who pulled out of Zanu PF at the revival of ZAPU and served as a National Executive member for Matabeleland North,” he said.

“He served the party diligently and made immense sacrifices for ZAPU. He has also previously served in various administration roles and as Treasurer General. During the build up to our last Congress, he had accepted nominations from provinces to stand as a presidential candidate. In a great show of humility, magnanimity and political astuteness, he stood down at the last minute and endorsed the current ZAPU President.”

The Secretary General noted how Mbayiwa worked with party leader, Sibangilizwe Nkomo well, which showed his love for ZAPU and the party’s ability to handle political transition.

“Cde Mbayiwa played a key role in the establishment of the current ZAPU administration and was an integral part of the Presidency. At the time of his demise, he was our National Chairperson and he was also the Acting Treasurer General. His contributions to ZAPU are invaluable,” he said.

Mbayiwa was a freedom fighter and veteran of the Liberation Struggle having joined politics as a youth coordinator in 1973.

“In September 1975 Cde. Mbayiwa was arrested for political activism,” said Hanana.

“In October 1976 he and 15 others crossed to Zambia to join the armed struggle. It is in Zambia where he met Cde Nikita Mangena. After being involved in the electrification of Freedom Camp, he went for military training in Angola which was being done by the Cubans and Russians.”

Afterwards, he went to Zambia to work at the ZPRA Headquarters in Kasupe where he was in charge of all Communication Equipment, said the party SG.

“By 1980, he had been deployed to all Frontal Bases. His dedication to the dismantling of colonialism in Zimbabwe is unparalleled.”

Post-independence, Mbayiwa was in charge of communication at Esigodini, Gwaai River Mine and Entumbane Assembly points.

“He also joined the Zimbabwe Defence Forces where again he served with distinction. He received the five, 10- and 15-year service medals from the army. Cde. Mbayiwa is also a recipient of the Liberation Silver Medal, Mozambican Campaign Medal and the DRC Campaign Medal,” Hanana noted.

“He was commissioned as Captain Regimental Signals Officer and rose through the ranks and retired as a Colonel. Upon retirement, Cde Mbayiwa worked as a branch Manager at Amtech and later established a private practice trading as Maclyn Spares. In 2008, he stood as an Independent Candidate in Nyamandlovu Constituency. In 2009 he was part of the ZAPU revival.”

Hanana decried how Mbayiwa passes on at a critical point in ZAPU and the country when they are preparing to dislodge Zanu PF in the coming 2023 elections.

“The country has lost a son of the soil, an administrator par excellence, an avid political scholar and gallant freedom fighter. His death is a blow to all of us. The gap he leaves will be hard to fill,” he said.

Another ZAPU member, Patrick Ndlovu, said Mbayiwa was one of the few people that the late party leader and national hero, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa listened to.

“DD had one quality that set him apart from most leaders. He listened more than he spoke. I noted Dabengwa listened to especially three people, former party president, Isaac Mabuka, Roma Nyathi and Mbayiwa. From these three, I also notice that Mabuka and Mbayiwa would disagree with DD. Both would say “Hayi Mdala Hayi” with slight smiles and shake their heads,” he said.

“From DD, Mbayiwa learnt to listen. It didn’t matter whether he agreed with you or not, he would listen to you, give you his opinion but still listen to you.”

Ndlovu highlighted that ZAPU has lost its anchor in the turbulent ocean of pre-election politics.

“He was currently the voice of reason within our National Executive Council,” he said.

Mbayiwa is survived by his wife and four children.

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