Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister and Zanu-PF Mashonaland East chairperson Dr Joel Biggie Matiza has died.
A veteran of the liberation struggle and a renowned architect by profession, Cde Matiza died of Covid-19 related illness last night at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare aged 60.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed Minister Matiza’s death in a statement, extolling his legacy of hard work and diligence.
“Covid-19 has claimed yet another Cabinet member in Hon Joel Biggie Matiza, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
“Minister JB Matiza brought a new beginning and added vigour to the development of our road network, both trunk and ancillary.
“He opened the sector to local construction companies and harnessed local professional and technical talent.
“The commencement of rehabilitation and expansion of the Beitbridge-Harare trunk road marked the highpoint of his frenetic ministerial engagement,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She added: “He employed equal zeal in airline, railway infrastructure recovery.
“Comrade Joel Biggie Matiza was also a tried and tested cadre of the ruling party. He was Chairman of Mashonaland East Province.”
Zanu PF Mashonaland East political commissar Cde Hebert Shumbamhini said the province had received the news of Cde Matiza’s death with shock.
“We are still in shock. He succumbed to Covid-19 this evening at around 7pm at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare where he was admitted,” he said.
Born on August 17, 1960 in Murehwa, Dr Matiza was Murehwa South House of Assembly member and his previous portfolios in Government include being Minister of State for Mashonaland East Province.
At the time of his death, he was also a Zanu PF Central Committee member and previously served in Government as Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
According to his curriculum vitae deposited at Parliament, Minister Matiza joined the liberation struggle in 1977 as a Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) cadre.
He attended local schools before going to Nigeria for his tertiary education, graduating with a BSc Hons degree in Architecture and an MSc degree in Architecture from Ahmadu Bello University.
He graduated with a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from the Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship, Malaysia, in collaboration with Chinhoyi University of Technology on December 15 last year.
During his tenure in Government under President Mnangagwa’s administration, Minister Matiza pushed for the rehabilitation of roads in the country using local resources and entrusted local companies to undertake the work.
During his tenure, the Government embarked on massive road rehabilitation projects of varying magnitudes in every constituency.
President Mnangagwa commissioned the completed stretches of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway under Phase One of the rehabilitation programme which involves upgrading and widening of the road.
This is one of the major infrastructure development projects post-independence which is expected to stretch all the way to Chirundu on the border with Zambia.
Minister Matiza’s death comes at a time the nation is still in deep mourning following the death on Wednesday of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, who has since been declared a National Hero.
He will be buried on Wednesday at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
This week, President Mnangagwa presided over the burials of the late Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and the late Zanu PF Central Committee member Cde Moton Dizzy Paul Malianga at the National Heroes Acre.
Early this month, the country lost decorated military commander, Brigadier-General Collin Moyo (Retired), who was buried at the national shrine.
Dr Matiza became the fourth Minister to die of Covid-19 related complications following the deaths of Dr Moyo, Dr Gwaradzimba and former Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri.
The late Dr Gwaradzimba also died after testing positive for the virus which is threatening to overwhelm the health services.
The death of Dr Matiza robs the country of a liberation war veteran who pursued education and entrepreneurship after the struggle and served his country in various capacities.
He was a passionate believer in the diligence and expertise of Zimbabweans in various trades.