Eddison Zvobgo was a politician, lawyer, poet and member of the Zanu-PF political party. He is known mostly for having been the mastermind of the legislation that enthroned Robert Mugabe as leader of a single party state in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. He had a reputation for his quick wit, sharp tongue, humour and being outspoken about the curtailment of civil liberties by Zanu-PF in the late 90s and early 2000s. He died on 22 August 2012 after a long illness.

Doctor
Eddison Zvobgo
Picture of Eddison Zvobgo
Born Eddison Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo
October 2, 1935
Masvingo
Died August 22, 2004 (aged 68)
Nationality Zimbabwe
Alma mater Tufts University- Boston, Harvard Law School
Occupation
  • Politician
  • Lawyer
  • Poet
Spouse(s) Julia Zvobgo (m. 1961)
Children Kerina Makaita Zvobgo, Eddison Mudiwa Zvobgo, Tsungirirai Julia Zvobgo, Jonas Zvobgo, Tendai Zvobgo, Esther Zvobgo, Farai Emily Zvobgo

Contents

Background

Zvobgo was born Eddison Jonas Mudadirwa in Masvingo on 2 October 1935 to a father who was a Minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. He attended the Chivizhe Primary School[1] before going to Tegwani Secondary School, a Methodist Mission School near Plumtree. He attended mission schools where he excelled, graduating at Tegwani Secondary School.[2] He met and married Julia Tukai Whande while in Masvingo.

Education & Political Activity

In 1959, Zvobgo started studying for a B.A. degree at Roma University College in Basutoland (now Lesotho) but was expelled the following year for political activities. He returned to Rhodesia where he succeeded in obtaining an American scholarship (ASPAU) to study at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.[1] He had in the meantime (in 1960) helped found the pro-independence National Democratic Party.

While in the USA he addressed United Nations committees on several occasions as the official ZAPU representative during the days before the split in the nationalist ranks.[1]

Zvobgo left Rhodesia after he got the US scholarship. He came back in 1964 and resumed politics but was soon jailed at Wha Wha prison in Midlands. After serving his prison sentence he was restricted at the new Sikombela Camp with other ZANU leaders. He remained there until November 1965 when, in the days immediately before UDI, he was sent to Salisbury Prison under the emergency legislation. While in prison Zvobgo studied for the University of London’s law degree LL.B. and graduated in 1970. In total he was jailed for 6 years during this period. He then began reading for the Bar examinations which he passed in 1971 while still in detention.[1]

When he got released in 1971 Zvobgo was appointed Deputy Secretary-General in December 1971. In 1972 he was admitted to the Bar and at once began practising in Salisbury.[1] He however left abruptly and went back to the USA, this time to study Law at Harvard Law School. He later taught criminal law as an associate professor at Lewis University College, in Illinois.[2] Zvobgo was joined in the USA by his wife Julia, who had been studying in the UK.

Edson Zvobgo was appointed Principal Overseas Representative of the ANC on his arrival in America, but in August 1973, he resigned from the ANC saying that he was still Deputy Secretary-General of ZANU and that this organisation was "waging a heroic armed struggle". He feared that Abel Muzorewa wouldnot be ruthless enough in negotiations with Ian Smith.[1]

In 1976, Zvobgo left the USA, joining Robert Mugabe and others in Mozambique to wage a war against Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front (RF) white minority government. It has been said that Zvobgo played a key role in Zanu in the conferences and diplomatic exchanges that led to independence.

Zvobgo at the Lancaster House Conference

During the deliberations at the conference Zvobgo was part of the negotiating team and he was very popular with the press for his sentiments. He was the spokesperson for the Patriotic Front during the conference and he proved to be very effective.[3] When Zvobgo thought that Lord Carrington who was chairing the conference was applying too much presure on the Patriotic Front as compared to others like Abel Muzorewa and Ian Smith, Zvobgo argued that
If Carrington carries on the way he has begun, plotting with puppets, we will go back to war[3]
. Zvobgo also caused a stir 10 days before the Lancaster House Conference when he insinuated that the then British Prime Minister Thatcher was having an affair with "Satan Botha" (PW Botha, former Apartheid era premier in South Africa).[3]

Political Career After Independence

Articles You Might Like

In the general elections of 1980 Zvobgo contested for the Masvingo seat, which he won. He held the seat until the time of his death in August 2004.[2] Zvobgo also held various senior government posts including Minister of Local Government and Housing (until 1982), Minister of of Justice (until 1985) aand Minister of Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs in 1987, during which time he made several amendments that gave Mugabe more powers as president of the country.[2]

In 1992, Zvobgo was demoted to minister of mines. Four years later, he survived a car accident which many believe was caused by sabotage. After surviving the accident, he was stripped of his ministry, remaining a minister without portfolio until 2000 when he was dropped altogether from the cabinet and Politburo.[4]

In the 2002 elections when the existence of the "Zvobgo wing" in Masvingo became publicly known, he refused to campaign for President Mugabe and criticised new public order laws and draconian measures to curtail freedom of expression in the media. He became the subject of an internal party disciplinary inquiry in 2003 after being accused of disloyalty and of holding talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.[4] The allegations of disloyalty were eventually dropped.[2]

Business Interests

Zvobgo owned properties in the tourism sector, the Chevron Hotel and the Flamboyant Hotel in Masvingo.

Death

In February 2004, Zvobgo's wife, Julia, died after suffering cardiac arrest. She was declared a National Hero. Later that same year, on 22 August 2004, Zvobgo himself succumbed to a long illness and died. He too was conferred National Hero status and was buried at the National Heroes' Acre.

Famous Zvobgo Quotes


Trivia




References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Edson Zvobgo, Colonial Relic, Published:Unkown, Retrieved:16 February 2015,
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Andrew Meldrum, Eddison Zvobgo, The Guardian, Published: August 24, 2004, Retrieved: July 16, 20014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Percy Makombe, Obituary – A razor-sharp mind, The Standard, Published: May 30, 2003, Retrieved: July 16, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Alex Duval Smith, Eddison Zvobgo: Ally turned critic of the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, The Independent, Published:30 August 2004, Retrieved:15 February 2015,