via Good men depart quietly – James Chitauro tribute April 10, 2014 by Moses Chamboko
News of former academic and top civil servant James Chitauro’s departure was not accompanied with the usual hullabaloo that we have become accustomed to whenever some political thug passes on. Chenjerai Hunzvi, Border Gezi, Elliot Manyika and a raft of other hoodlums and murderers undeservedly lying at our national shrine as well as provincial heroes’ acres across the country caused a lot of “noise” when they departed mother earth to meet their creator and answer for their unforgivable sins.
On Monday 7th April 2014, a decent man, a true gentleman, a fatherly figure, intelligent, articulate and well-meaning, James Chitauro, passed on at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare. Curiously, it took The Herald almost four days to make a very short and blurred report on his death.
Some of us who knew James Chitauro personally, while concerned, were not at all surprised by this well-calculated silence on his death. Dr Chitauro departed the way he lived his life; decently and quietly. I met him on at least two occasions in New Zealand and had the privilege of having long conversations with him then. He was a father, an educator and in every sense, a very wise and genuine man. He had a human heart.
In October 2005, the Zimbabwean community in New Zealand organised a farewell function for the Chitauros as they came to the end of their tour of duty in Australasia. Together with his wife, Florence Chitauro, outgoing Ambassador, he came to a community farewell soccer match in Wellington after which we flocked into a hall to listen to him and his wife delivering their farewell speeches. I was privileged to introduce our special guests. One thing he said that has stuck in my mind, almost ten years later was “My children try and live your full lives while you’re in the Diaspora. You never know when you will return to Zimbabwe. Mai Chitauro and I spent twenty years in the UK during the liberation war. Each year, we thought we would be returning home soon. We were like people at a train or bus station, waiting to depart. Twenty years later, we found ourselves in that same situation”.
Then, these words did not make much sense as most of us had just migrated to this distant country. Nearly ten years later, as he passes on, his words ring even louder in my mind. It was that speech in Wellington that partly changed my perception of life in the Diaspora. Most of us were of the view that we would make a few dollars, return home, buy properties and live comfortably thereafter. But Chitauro had seen well beyond this and was generous enough to share the story of his life with the community.
At some point when James Chiatauro was still permanent secretary, President Mugabe gave a pubic appraisal of his secretaries. I vividly recall him singling out James Chitauro, Charles Utete and Willard Chiwewe as the most outstanding. According to him, Chiwewe was top of the pack. As the nation quietly farewells James Chitauro, we also remember how Chiwewe fell from grace. When he was relieved of his permanent secretary status, he was deployed to his home province of Masvingo where he went down in history as the province’s shortest servicing governor. As we speak, he lives the life of a semi-pauper in Masvingo despite the fact that he was the most academically qualified governor Masvingo has ever had.
In controversial circumstances, he was replaced with a T1 primary school teacher, Titus Maluleke. Before that, there was another ordinary primary school teacher, Josiah Hungwe, who also succeeded yet another primary school teacher, Dzikamai Mavhaire. Today, another primary school teacher and a village boy from Mwenezi, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, is the de facto governor with a new title of Minister for Provincial Affairs. Though very small in stature, he is a master of violence. What wrong have people of Masvingo done to deserve this? But I digress.
As we unceremoniously farewell Dr James Chitauro whose remains join ordinary citizens at Warren Hills, one thing ZANU PF has confirmed to us is that good men and women not tainted with corruption, whose hands don’t drip with innocent blood, men and women who have served their country effectively, diligently and honourably, are not newsworthy. Rest in eternal peace Dr Chitauro. We shall remember what you taught us.
Moses Chamboko is the Interim Secretary General for Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). He writes in his personal capacity. You may visit ZUNDE at www.zunde.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org