John Makumbe dies

HARARE - Aspiring MDC Buhera West legislator and University of Zimbabwe (UZ) lecturer John Makumbe died yesterday morning.

Makumbe, who suffered a heart attack, passed on at Arcadia Medical Centre in Harare. He was 63.

He is survived by wife, Virginia, and five children.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the death, saying the country has lost a “valuable” academia who spoke his mind without hesitation.

Makumbe was a political science lecturer and a fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

He declared interest to represent Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party in Buhera West Constituency which is currently held by Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga.

Announcing his interest to run for political office during the MDC’s anniversary celebrations in the capital in 2011, Makumbe said he had struck a deal with Matinenga.

The deal would have seen Matinenga going back to legal practice paving way for Makumbe to contest.

“I want to tell you all that I have now removed my academic hat and I am now openly supporting MDC,” he said then, amidst cheers from the crowd.

At the time, Makumbe said there would be no need for primary elections in the constituency because no one was contesting him.

“There is no need for primary elections. The people in Buhera say they want a white man to represent them and I have made myself available,” he said in apparent reference to his albinism.

His death comes at a time when the MDC is receiving applications from those interested in representing the party in the forthcoming elections.

Charity Manyeruke, a political science lecturer at UZ and a former student of Makumbe, said she has lost a pillar of strength and “fountain of wisdom in research and public administration.”

“We did a research on the effects of Esap (an economic strategy implemented by government in 1990s) together with the late Prof, I was a student then and he helped me a lot grasp important issues when doing a research.

“I am what I am today chiefly because of him. As a department we have lost a man who loved his job, he had a strong vision of producing quality students,” said Manyeruke.

Mourners are gathered at No 18 Ashburton Road in Harare’s Chadcombe suburb and funeral arrangements will be announced in due course, the MDC said. - Xolisani Ncube

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