|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|TUESDAY JUNE 05 2001|
|Hunzvi death weakens Mugabe|
|FROM MICHAEL HARTNACK IN HARARE|
PRESIDENT MUGABE summoned an emergency meeting of his top advisory body, the Politburo, yesterday after the death of a vital ally, Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, chairman of Zimbabwe’s self-styled liberation war veterans.
The death of Dr Hunzvi, who led the campaign to force white farmers off their land, has unnerved Zimbabweans, who increasingly believe that the Mugabe regime is doomed.
His demise follows the state funerals last month of two other men crucial to President Mugabe’s security apparatus: Border Gezi, the Minister for Youth, and Moven Mahachi, the Defence Minister. Both were said to have died in road accidents, but Charles Pemhenayi, the publicity secretary of the ruling Zanu (PF) party, voiced the feelings of many when he said: "We do not want to think that Lucifer had a hand in this."
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Parliamentary Speaker and former security supremo who is tipped to succeed Mr Mugabe eventually, said: "We don’t know what’s hitting us, it’s not natural."
The air of fear and foreboding surrounding the regime was reflected in a statement by a senior war veteran, who said that on the day before the latest death Dr Hunzvi was refusing to see him or other veterans from Zimbabwe’s liberation war because "he thinks we are bewitching him". Dr Hunzvi, 51, a Zanu (PF) MP, collapsed from undisclosed causes in the western city of Bulawayo ten days ago, and the nature of his illness was never announced. Medical sources said that he was being treated for lesions on the lungs and malaria symptoms.
"It is ironic that a trained medical doctor died of Aids," Trudy Stevenson, an opposition MP, said, airing suspicions of many Zimbabweans.
"He was also a doctor who misused his professional skills to turn his surgery into a torture chamber. I am not going to shed any tears for him. I don’t share general superstition, but this will make Mugabe’s people even more jittery, they will be thinking the hand of God is against them."
Dr Hunzvi’s self-styled former guerrillas, many of them teenagers too young to have fought in the 1972-80 bush war in the former Rhodesia, combined with members of the Zanu (PF) youth league under Gezi and with Mahachi’s uniformed forces to seize up to 2,000 white-owned farms before last June’s parliamentary elections. They are earmarked for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.
About 40 opposition supporters and seven white farmers were killed during the rampage, while police refused to intervene, granting the murderers impunity. Some of those abducted testified to being taken to Dr Hunzvi’s surgery and tortured by having their genitals bound with wire. With Mr Mugabe resolved to seek a further six-year term at the presidential elections next April, Dr Hunzvi’s militants had recently been invading factories and offices, ostensibly to extend their agitation for social justice.
In reality, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, said, Dr Hunzvi’s aim was to break urban support for the opposition. Mr Mugabe was able to reinforce his 62-58 parliamentary majority by nominating 30 seats, but six by-elections are pending and the MDC has lodged petitions to the High Court against 29 other Zanu (PF) victories.
Dr Hunzvi declared last year: "As ex-combatants we will do everything to see that no other party comes back into power because if that happens we will be left with no other option but to go back to war.
"You cannot expect us to hand over the country on a silver plate to a party backed by the white man. We will take up arms and go back to the bush."
A Western diplomat said that the deaths of Hunzvi, Gezi and Mahachi will make key figures reluctant to fill their shoes in "a dying government".
Timothy Stamps, Minister of Health, said that Zimbabwe’s 13 million population, which has increased from a little less than 900,000 in 1920, will reach "zero growth rate" next year because of the Aids pandemic.
BBC: Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Also on a list of more than 130 people affected by the travel ban are Mr Taylor's wife, his ex-wives, his son and close aides.
The move was ordered by the committee monitoring sanctions against Liberia.
It stipulates that all states should refuse entry to those named, unless they are going to the UN headquarters in New York, or attending meetings with regional African organisations.
The travel embargo is part of a sanctions package that includes an arms ban as well as an embargo on diamonds exported from Liberia.
President Taylor has complained that sanctions are beginning to bite.
Mr Taylor told his own private radio station, Kiss FM, that the government was losing income due to the ban on the export of diamonds.
He said the United Nations was acting in a partisan manner in the way it was applying sanctions on Liberia.
The list of people on the travel ban includes government and military officials, businessmen and a number of foreigners based in Liberia. Some are known to be arms dealers and involved in the diamond and timber trades.
Also on the list is a senior Sierra
Leonean Revolutionary United Front rebel leader Sam Bockarie, although the
Liberian Government denies he is still in the country.
A long running and brutal civil war in Sierra Leone has been largely a
conflict about who controls the country's diamond mines.
Rebels have exported these "blood diamonds" from the east of the country,
The UN began imposing sanctions against Liberia last month after it judged
that all contacts with the RUF had not stopped.
A long running and brutal civil war in Sierra Leone has been largely a conflict about who controls the country's diamond mines.
Rebels have exported these "blood diamonds" from the east of the country, through Liberia
The UN began imposing sanctions against Liberia last month after it judged that all contacts with the RUF had not stopped.MDC in talks with SA government
Daily News: 6/6/01 8:49:00 AM (GMT +2)
THE MDC last week held its most extensive official talks with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the South African government in Pretoria.
IQINISO LIYAPUMA LINJALO
CHOKWADI CHINOBUDA CHAKADARO
These facts have been published to help everybody get to the truth. We are interested only in the truth. The Government newspapers and radio broadcasts are full of lies. Every Zimbabwean has a right to hear the truth. We are not stupid. We are sensible people. Without the truth how can we make a sensible decision on the future of our country? We love our country. We have to make the right decisions when we vote. We will not be afraid. We will exercise our democratic rights. We can only do this by knowing the truth.
Further bulletins like this will be distributed from time to time.
Because... We all need to know the truth.
From The Financial Gazette, 7 June
Plot to kill Tsvangirai
Some Zimbabwean state security agents planned to eliminate MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai in an attempt to cripple the opposition party's increasing momentum as it bids to unseat President Robert Mugabe in next year's presidential election, the Financial Gazette learnt this week.
Tsvangirai confirmed to the Financial Gazette this week that he had been tipped off about the possible attempt on his life. Speaking from Durban where he is attending the World Economic Forum meeting, Tsvangirai yesterday said although he had been tipped off about the assassination plot, he did not know whether it was true or not. "I heard about the plot, but I do not know whether it is true or not," Tsvangirai told the Financial Gazette by telephone. Reliable sources told the Financial Gazette however that the first attempt on Tsvangirai's life should have been made as early as last week but the plot was derailed by the untimely death of Defence Minister Moven Mahachi, who died when his car was involved in an accident in Nyanga.
The plot was allegedly hatched at Chaminuka Building (the headquarters of the spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation) and would have centred on the use of a group of rowdy war veterans. Under the plan, the group of war veterans aligned to Zanu PF would descend on Tsvangirai's Eastgate Building offices to ostensibly demonstrate against the opposition leader's policies on land. Tsvangirai normally works from the city centre building daily. In the ensuing melee and confusion, some members of the group who would be armed would assassinate Tsvangirai. It is understood some members of the riot police were also lined up to join in the fray and then take control and disperse crowds after the mission had been accomplished.
Authoritative sources have said the assassination would have been carried out while President Mugabe was outside Zimbabwe attending the G-15 summit in Indonesia. Sources said the planned demonstration was going to be arranged on the pretext of denouncing the opposition leader's stance on land and it would have rallied behind the cry that Tsvangirai was selling the country to the British. Tsvangirai operates out of Eastgate and state security agents carefully monitor his movements.
However, the Financial Gazette has it on good authority that Tsvangirai, who had been tipped off about the plot on his life, shunned his offices last week preferring to work from home or other premises. According to the sources, Tsvangirai was tipped off by others privy to the plan and told to stay away from his office during the days in question. If the first plan had failed, a number of options were also lined up to eliminate the opposition leader who is the only serious threat to Mugabe's continued leadership of Zimbabwe. "The bottom line is that his (Tsvangirai's) popularity has scared them (ruling party officials) to the hilt and they know he is likely to win in any free and fair election," said an authoritative source. "They believe the only effective way to sow seeds of confusion and cripple the MDC before the election is to kill the opposition leader. If you hear some of them declare that Tsvangirai will never rule this country, don't assume that they are joking," he added.
The plot to kill Tsvangirai was part of a wider plot to eliminate a number of influential personalities perceived as being "anti-Zanu PF", according to sources. These included prominent journalists, a High Court and Supreme Court judge and other members of the opposition and civic groups. Two years ago Tsvangirai survived a brutal attack when unidentified people raided his offices at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). At the time, his attackers were widely believed to be members of the governing party incensed by persistent attacks on government policies by the ZCTU, which Tsvangirai led as secretary general before the formation of the MDC The assailants have never been arrested despite Tsvangirai's statement to police giving clues as to who they could be.
Sources said the whole plot to eliminate prominent Zimbabwean personalities opposed to Zanu PF was part of a wider scheme considered by militant elements in the party as the only way to derail the MDC's charge towards Mugabe's removal from power. On the targeted journalists, one source said: "They had hoped the bombing of the Daily News would scare the private media into submission but this didn't happen."
From The Financial Gazette, 7 June
S Africa's Mbeki tells Mugabe to accept MDC
South African President Thabo Mbeki has told Zimbabwe's embattled President Robert Mugabe to respect the rule of law and publicly assure Zimbabweans and the international community that his government will conduct a free and fair presidential election next year, diplomatic sources said yesterday. Mbeki wrote to Mugabe immediately after meeting United States secretary of state Colin Powell in Pretoria two weeks ago, the sources said.
In the letter, signalling an about-turn by Mbeki from his much criticised soft diplomacy towards Harare, the South African leader, without whose support Mugabe and his government could collapse, told the Zimbabwean leader to accept the reality of the MDC as the official opposition party. According to highly placed sources, Mbeki two weeks ago also dispatched feelers to former president Canaan Banana for his assistance in Pretoria's attempts to initiate dialogue between Mugabe, his ruling ZANU PF party and the MDC and its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Banana could not be reached for comment on the matter while South Africa's high commission in Harare did not respond to written questions.
State House however scoffed at suggestions that Mbeki had written to Mugabe about the MDC and the rampant lawlessness, saying the two presidents communicated regularly using various ways and it would be fallacious to isolate only one out of these several occasions the two leaders have been in touch. "Presidents Mbeki and Mugabe are constantly in touch with each other and communicate in all ways," Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told the Financial Gazette yesterday. "And within that communication it would be futile to pick only one type be it a telephone call, correspondence or whatever and then start to say Mbeki has written to Mugabe when in fact that is part of a regular and mutual communication between two brother African presidents," Moyo said.
In any case, Moyo said, Mbeki clearly understood that the problem in Zimbabwe was the inequitable distribution of land and had reiterated this position soon after meeting Powell and before the South African parliament. Mbeki told South African parliamentarians just after his meeting with Powell that the root cause of Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis was the failure by Britain to honour its colonial obligation to help resolve the unjust distribution of land. Mbeki refuted allegations that the land issue was being used by Mugabe to shore up his waning popularity and said that Pretoria and the international community should instead help Harare resolve the land problem.
But sources said Mbeki, whose own African National Congress has in recent months moved away from shunning Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party, wrote to Mugabe telling him that he should demonstrate his commitment to democracy by publicly according the labour-backed MDC the respect it deserves as the main opposition party. Mbeki also told Mugabe to assure the international community that his government would not countenance political violence during the run-up to the 2002 presidential election. Gangs led by self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war have unleashed violence and anarchy in Zimbabwe in a bid to cow a largely discontented electorate to support Mugabe who seeks to extend his 21 years in power next year by another six years.
The meeting with Powell, who accused Mugabe of using totalitarian methods to cling to power, had spurred Mbeki to write to Mugabe, said the sources. But most importantly, sources said, Mbeki was now under immense pressure from within the ANC party itself to take a more drastic and active approach on Mugabe and Zanu PF. "Of course there is the push by the international community as represented by Powell but the biggest pressure on Mbeki is actually coming from the ANC's allies such as the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)," one source said. COSATU is disgruntled by what it perceives as an oppressive treatment of the labour-backed MDC by Mugabe.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 7 June
Outrage over hero status for Hunzvi
Harare - President Robert Mugabe's decision to make his most feared henchman, Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, a national hero of Zimbabwe has outraged human rights groups. Hunzvi, who died on Monday and will be given a state funeral, achieved notoriety through his brutal campaign against the black opposition and racist attacks on whites. Tarcisius Zimbiti, director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, said: "Hunzvi's behaviour contributed to the suffering of many people and to numerous human rights violations." Human rights groups documented 47 political killings and other acts, such as rape and torture, affecting more than 20,000 people last year. Numerous witnesses have told of Hunzvi's participation in beatings and torture.
From News24 (SA), 7 June
Zim land grabbers evicted
Harare - The Zimbabwean government on Monday night forcibly evicted more than 1 000 illegal settlers occupying part of the Central Estates near Mvuma, 200km south of Harare, after they allegedly stole and slaughtered 90 head of cattle belonging to British business tycoon, Nick Van Hoogstraten. Hoogstraten, 54, is an influential millionaire supporter of President Robert Mugabe based in Uckfield in East Sussex, Britain. He is one of the few remaining, long-standing financial supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party. He has nine farms of nearly one million acres. Hoogstraten has in the past described white Zimbabweans as "trash, keen to hang on to white privilege".
At the height of farm invasions in February last year, about 1 200 war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters invaded the Gadzanga Farm, which is part of Hoogstraten's Central Estates and vowed to stay. Monday night's eviction, spearheaded by a team comprising the police and members of the Zanu-PF provincial land committee, surprised the new invaders who were mourning the death of their leader Chenjerai ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi who died of an Aids-related illness. After a meeting between the Zimbabwean government and Hunzvi supporters in Harare, an announcement was made that Hunzvi will be accorded with national hero status.
Police swooped on the farm last night following reports of lawlessness on the farm. Police at Hoogstraten's farm said they were given orders to evict the invaders and drive them back to their former homes. "The crime rate at the farm was getting out of hand, so we were called in to assist in the eviction exercise in case they offered some resistance," said a police officer. Some 45 cattle were stolen recently and an equal number were found dead after being snared by the invaders. "We were asked to invade this farm and stay here," said Peter Mpofu, a peasant. "Today we are being chased away. This government must be clear about its activities. I lost everything. I thought they were serious. Now I am homeless."
Last year, war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters, led by Hunzvi, overran thousands of commercial farms as part of a brutal election campaign for the ruling party in the June parliamentary election. Thirty-five people, mostly supporters of the opposition, died in the campaign. Zanu-PF won 62 seats, most of them in the rural areas and lost 58 seats to the opposition, most of them urban constituencies.
From News24 (SA), 6 June
Zim govt bans own TV programme
Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government Wednesday banned its own image-building Talk to the Nation television programme because live phone-in contributions from viewers revealed the weight of critical opinion, say broadcasters. "I have received a letter from the ZBC telling us that the programme has been banned," confirmed Matumwa Mawere, a financier closely associated with Mugabe, who was one of its sponsors. Kindness Paradza, co-ordinator for the pro-Government National Development Assembly, another sponsor, said Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was responsible for the decision. "Don't even bother asking the ZBC," he said. Paradza said the state broadcasting monopoly stood to lose 4.5 million Zimbabwean dollars ($90 000) in potential production, air time and advertising revenue. There were due to be 26 weekly broadcasts in the run-up to presidential elections next April, when Mugabe, 77, is seeking another six-year term in office.
Mashakada, a qualified economist, was strongly supported by most callers, while Chapfika had difficulty answering their questions. Broadcasting executives, who asked not to be named, said Moyo was angered by Mashakada being invited to take part. "Live productions can be tricky and dangerous," said a broadcaster. "You do not know what someone will say and there is no way of controlling it."
The government has blocked repeated rulings by Zimbabwean courts that its broadcasting monopoly breaches the constitutional right of free expression. Police defied court orders last year to seize the equipment of a would-be private radio station. In January presses of the country's only independent daily newspaper were blown up by attackers who have never been apprehended, and Mugabe has been described by world media monitoring groups and one of the worst enemies of journalistic freedom currently in power.
From The Daily News, 7 June
Mawere wants his money back
The National Development Assembly (NDA) co-ordinator, Kindness Paradza, yesterday said the civic organisation was seeking a $1 million refund from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) after the latter breached its contract by switching its programme, Talk to the Nation, off the air without notice. The NDA made part payment of the $4,5 million to the ZBC as per the signed contract under which the ZBC would screen 26 programmes. The contract was signed last month between Paradza and Noel Nhira, the ZBC's controller of marketing.
The television programme, designed to spruce up Zanu PF's battered image, was struck off the airwaves on Monday. The NDA, created to counteract the civil society-led National Constitutional Assembly, is allegedly sponsored through a special fund established by Zanu PF and First Bank, in which Mutumwa Mawere, the presenter and moderator of the talk show, is a major shareholder. Mawere, who is strongly believed to be close to the establishment, chairs the NDA. Mawere yesterday denied the programme was sponsored by the ruling party. "The programme is not sponsored by Zanu PF. If it was meant to serve their interests, then I would have to check with my principals first before inviting someone to the programme. If that was the case, it would not have been banned."
Paradza said the programme was sponsored by the NDA's membership of about 1 000 individuals and organisations, who paid an annual subscription fee of between $200 and $200 000. The NDA's members include Native Investments of Africa, Migdale Investments and Africa Resources Limited, which are owned by Phillip Chiyangwa, Saviour Kasukuwere and Mawere, respectively. Chiyangwa and Kasukuwere are Zanu PF MPs. Paradza said the NDA would seek legal advice on how to either resuscitate the discussion programme, or recover the money it had paid to the parastatal as the ZBC had breached the contract by switching off the programme. He said, according to the contract between the two parties, the acceptance of the programme was conditional on the editorial content remaining the responsibility of the ZBC, with the NDA paying for the production, presenter or moderator and members of the panel. His organisation had met the obligations of the contract, Paradza said. Paradza said in the end, the viewers are the losers.
NDA officials alleged the programme was banned on the instruction of Professor Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office. Moyo has denied he was behind the ban. However, he said the government fully supported the decision by the ZBC board to terminate the live programme. Learnmore Jongwe, the MDC secretary for information and publicity, yesterday said: "The banning on ZBC of the programme, by non-elected junior minister Jonathan Moyo, clearly puts it beyond doubt that the level of intolerance in Zanu PF has reached such a stage that they are now having difficulties tolerating themselves. The party has now reached such an advanced state of paranoia that they are constantly running away from their shadows."
Echoing Jongwe's statement, Paradza said: "People can now no longer talk to the nation and to each other, but to themselves. Moyo has closed debate between people of different political backgrounds." Jongwe said the MDC had tried to challenge Zanu PF to a national debate on topical issues to try and create a pool of ideas from which the country would benefit. He said last Thursday's NDA programme featuring David Chapfika of Zanu PF and Tapiwa Mashakada of the MDC was a step towards national dialogue. Chapfika, the MP for Mutoko North, said yesterday he personally thought that the debate was constructive, but did not know whether or not it was in line with the terms of reference of the ZBC's contract with the NDA. "I don't have any information as to what went wrong, but as far as I am concerned, my party was not bothered by my performance on the programme," he said.
Urging the government to take heed of people's feelings, Jongwe said: "The programme gave Zimbabweans a breath of fresh air and attempted to honour their right to freedom of expression and their right to fair and balanced debates." He accused Zanu PF of failure to accept democratic debate, saying the party wanted to maintain a monopoly on the public media so that it could "hurl insults at civic organisations and the opposition party". Paradza argued that ZBC employees on the production of the one-hour programme did not cease to work for the public broadcaster and become contract workers for the civic organisation. According to the NDA's contract with the ZBC, the NDA did not have to pay ZBC employees for producing the programme. Agnes Gwatiringa, a ZBC employee, was the programme's producer and director. Paradza said: "We broadcast the programme from Studio 1 at ZBC with a complete ZBC crew, including a producer and director. Conditions of the contract were that editorial content remained ZBC's responsibility and the NDA was required to pay for services of the production, presenter or moderator and members of the panel only."
From The Financial Gazette, 7 June
Donors wash their hands of land issue
The international donor community has finally resolved that it will not fund Zimbabwe's current land reform programme as long as President Robert Mugabe remains in power, diplomatic and farming sources disclosed to the Financial Gazette this week. The sources said Mugabe's inconsistency in committing himself to implement a proper and lawful land reform programme was cause of great concern among the donor community and Western investors. They said the feeling among the international donor community was that it was better to wait and deal with a new leader than Mugabe because his past actions in implementing the land reform programme were inconsistent with discussions agreed to during major donor conferences such as the last one held in Harare two years ago.
The sources however said some of Mugabe's Cabinet ministers had proved to be amenable to an orderly and proper land reform programme during discussions with key donor states based on the conclusions reached at the Harare donors' conference. "A lot of donors are willing to help but they have told us clearly that they will not commit anything under the present political dispensation headed by President Mugabe," a highly placed source within the local agriculture industry said. A Western diplomat based in Harare yesterday said it was now clear that the donor community and investors had closed the door on Harare and were not keen to fund any land resettlement programme in Zimbabwe.
He said Mugabe was the greatest impediment to the successful implementation of such an exercise because he displayed inconsistency when trying to implement the land reform programme. The diplomat said the way the economy was being managed was also a contributory factor. "It is clear that the situation will not change unless there is change at the top," one diplomat said, adding: "Donors and investors will not come forward under the current dispensation."
Zimbabwe needs about $40 billion to successfully implement its fast-track land reform programme that began in earnest after the violent occupation of white-owned commercial farms in February last year. Since the 1998, the country has failed to raise substantial amounts from the donor community to implement a meaningful land resettlement exercise. Member states of the European Union and Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain have refused to support the exercise saying they would only do so if it was clear that the programme would be carried out in a fair and transparent manner aimed at alleviating poverty. Zimbabwe says Britain and the United States should provide funding for land reform as agreed under the 1979 Lancaster House agreement that led to the southern African country's independence.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which has tried to mediate between Zimbabwe and the international community, yesterday said it recognised the need for the equitable distribution of land in Zimbabwe and for international support to carry out a successful and sustainable land reform. "The UNDP believes that land reform can be successfully implemented based on dialogue and agreements among the domestic stakeholders," the UNDP said in statement to the Financial Gazette. "A land reform programme that is based on broad consensus and is carried out within the country's legal framework while targeted at alleviating poverty has the potential to attract support from the international community," said UNDP.
The UN agency said consultations with the Zimbabwe government, national stakeholders and the international community on how the country could be assisted in land reform were still continuing. The UNDP said it remained committed to providing support to improve the capacity for planning and implementing a technically sound and sustainable land reform programme support within the framework of the advice put forward by the UN technical mission which visited Harare last September.
The disclosures of the feelings in the donor community come at a time when a Cabinet committee on resettlement headed by Vice President Joseph Msika is considering proposals by the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI), a committee made up of farmers and other stakeholders, to resolve the impasse on land. The ZJRI is made up of representatives from the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association and the business community. Under its proposals, the CFU withdraws all litigation against the government over designated farms and offers one million hectares of productive land for the immediate resettlement of 20 000 families. The proposal also includes a $1.375 billion soft loan revolving fund through the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Bank to support resettled farmers.
FOR the past two days there has been only one discussion issue in Harare, the death of Chenjerai Hunzvi, the controversial leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association.
It is no overstatement to say that at the time of his death the Polish-trained medical doctor was probably one of the most hated men among Zimbabwe's opposition and the 4500-strong white commercial farming community.
He led supporters of President Robert Mugabe's government and the ruling Zanu (PF) party on a violent campaign to intimidate opposition supporters and to invade white-owned farms campaigns that exacerbated the country's economic and political crisis.
Before his death, Hunzvi was seen as one element of a triumvirate of Mugabe's most reliable foot soldiers who traversed the length and breadth of Zimbabwe to shore up the ruling party's sagging fortunes even when it was evident that the health of the war veterans' leader was failing.
The other key elements of this group were Gender, Youth Development and Employment Creation Minister Border Gezi, and Defence Minister Moven Mahachi. Both died in separate car accidents last month.
The questions being asked most often are what killed "Hitler", as Hunzvi was popularly known, and what his death means for Mugabe, Zanu (PF) and the country as a whole.
Allegations by Hunzvi's exwife, now living in Poland, that he was an incorrigible womaniser and adulterer when they were still married, have given rise to speculation that Hunzvi may have died of AIDS, although senior government officials say he died of cerebral malaria.
Although opposition supporters and the commercial farming community appear openly relieved that "Hitler is, mercifully, no more", as one white farmer said, it is obvious that Hunzvi's death has been a serious blow to Mugabe and his supporters if their initial reaction to his death is anything to go by.
The fact that authorities in Harare are planning to make Hunzvi a national hero despite Hitler's questionable credentials during the liberation war, and the fact that he was facing criminal charges of defrauding the state's war victims compensation fund, suggests that he had built up a credible profile for himself among the country's ruling elite.
But who was Hunzvi?
At the beginning of the farm invasions in February last year, Hunzvi likened himself to "Napoleon Bonaparte, Che Guevara, or Adolf Hitler himself".
In addition, he said, those personalities were "figures no one could stop and who led revolutions. Now no one can stop the revolution we have started (in Zimbabwe)".
Hunzvi rose to prominence in 1996 after Mugabe bowed to his violent but popular campaign for the government to award war veterans Z50000 gratuities for having taken part in the war of liberation, and Z2000 monthly pensions. He disrupted a presidential speech at Heroes' Acre that same year, a feat not done before, and demonstrated at State House to agitate for the gratuities and allowances.
Most of Hunzvi's early history is obscure. What is known is that he was born on October 23 1949 in Chikomba district, east of Harare. Later in his youth, he was detained and jailed by Ian Smith's government. Upon his release he crossed into Zambia as a Zapu cadre. While in Lusaka he was assigned to the Zapu office in Warsaw, Poland, where he remained until after independence.
Hunzvi married three times.
|Zimbabwean minister seeks world's help in solving crisis|
Zimbabwe's finance minister and its opposition leader have made separate appeals to help their country out of its economic crisis.
However, officials from the International Monetary Fund said the country would need to engage in tangible economic reforms before it would resume its support.
Zimbabwe's economy is nearing collapse, with vague estimates of unemployment approaching 50% and inflation about 70%.
The crisis worsened after international lenders and investors began pulling out last year as President Robert Mugabe's rule became more autocratic.
Zimbabwean Finance Minister Simba Makoni, hailed by many as a reformist, appealed for help from participants at a southern Africa economic summit, in Durban.
He said: "We want to engage and re-engage the international community. We want you to solve the problems with us."
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, appealed for resumed investment as soon as the political crisis ends.
However, "lifelines," such as electricity and fuel sold cheaply by South Africa need to continue despite the political turbulence. He also dismissed the idea that sanctions would help end the turmoil.
He said: "The question is, are you propping up Mugabe? In all due respect, support for the people of Zimbabwe is not the same as support for Mugabe."
The IMF suspended its loans to Zimbabwe in 1999 after the country missed targets on inflation, state spending and exchange-rate policy. The country is now in arrears on its IMF loans. Zimbabwe needed transparent and just land reform and a sustainable and successful economic programme, the IMF said.
South African Airways (SAA) is reportedly considering a new alliance with Air Zimbabwe for flights on some international and regional routes.
SAA's executive vice president, Bonang Mohale, told local press in Harare last week, 'It will make us very happy to have a strategic alliance with Air Zimbabwe and even Air Namibia and this will fully market us as a region,' reported the Financial Gazette.
Zimbabwe has won only one individual Olympic gold medal. The winner was 29-year-old Elliot Mujaji for the 100m men's sprint at the Sydney Paralympic Games last October.
I wonder how they'll cope when too many people bring medals
But he nearly did not make the Italian competition. Three days before he was due to fly out from Harare, half the sponsorship for his ticket fell through. Alternative sponsors were found just 24 hours before the flight.
Recently he missed a chance to compete in New Zealand because he could not raise the money in time.
He is disappointed by the lack of official support and adequate recognition.
When he flew into Harare after winning the gold medal last year, there was nobody to meet him at the airport except family. What is more, some customs officials tried to charge him duty on his medal.
"I managed to bring a medal and they admitted they'd been sponsoring people for years without success - I wonder how they'll cope when too many people bring medals," laughs the athlete, "I don't think they appreciate my efforts."
But he does receive substantial support from individuals and some companies. Especially the mining company that has employed him both before and after the accident that changed his life just over three years ago. They give him as much paid sporting leave as he needs and pay some of his travel expenses.
Before the fateful day, Elliot was already a promising athlete running for the national team. He had just qualified for the Commonwealth Games when, on the 3 January 1998, he was severely burnt in an electrical accident at work. He went into a two month coma after his right arm was amputated.
"After I came out of the coma and they told me about my arm, I remembered what had happened, and I felt sad that I was no longer going to run," the athlete recalls.
But a priest visited him regularly and encouraged him to get back into sport as other disabled people had done.
Nine months after coming out of hospital he started going for very short jogs. Two years later he was back to running 100m in under 12 seconds. Then he met his present manager, American Dr Fred Sorrels, who is trying to develop disabled sport in Africa.
Fred managed to get him into the Sydney Paralympics and helped secure a six month sports scholarship for Elliot to train in Australia before going to Sydney.
I lose some balance when I'm starting because I pump very hard with one arm so I can manage to lift the legs
"I lose some balance when I'm starting because I pump very hard with one arm so I can manage to lift the legs," he explains. "I've corrected the problem with training and right now I think the 200m is my best event."
Elliot attributes his success to God and people like Fred Sorrels, but his many admirers prefer to credit his own courage and commitment.
Future success may depend on the degree of support he receives; for example, if he could afford to turn professional he could increase his hours of training from three a day to seven. But support for disabled athletes in most African countries, except giants like South Africa and Nigeria, is minimal.