President Mnangagwa mourns ex minister Kenneth Vhundukai Manyonda

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Mnangagwa has mourned the passing on of former Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade and Manicaland Provincial Governor, Cde Kenneth Vhundukai Manyonda.

Cde Manyonda (88) died on Wednesday morning at Marlborough Clinic in Harare.

President Mnangagwa said he had learnt with deep sorrow and sadness of the passing on of Cde Manyonda and described him as a quiet-spoken veteran nationalist who cut his political teeth in trade unionism during colonial days.

“Although I knew he had been unwell for quite some time, I still hoped he would pull through, thus remaining with us for much longer. Sadly, this was not to be,” said the President.

He said Cde Manyonda remained in step with the nationalist movement and the struggle until the country gained its independence.

“He had joined politics far back in the heady days of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and had remained engaged until we attained our Independence. Like his peers, Cde Manyonda suffered harassment and incarceration at the hands of the colonial authorities, but without ever giving up or abandoning the cause. He thus stands in national annals as a symbol of fearless fortitude and unwavering commitment,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said after independence, Cde Manyonda served his country diligently, including in the higher office of minister of Government after his appointment as Deputy Minister and, later as Governor of Manicaland Province.

“As a Member of Parliament for Buhera West, Cde Manyonda served the community with remarkable foresight, including in respect of a rural livestock upgrading programme which he introduced well before our Land Reform Programme,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said later, Cde Manyonda would pioneer a commercial brick-making project in Mutare thus anticipating the rapid construction thrust which comes with urbanisation that is being witnessed across the country.

President Mnangagwa said Cde Manyonda had this knack for living and investing ahead of his times.

“On behalf of the Party, Zanu, Government, my family and on my behalf, I wish to express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the Manyonda Family, especially to his immediate family, on this their saddest loss. As they grieve over the loss of their beloved father and guardian, may they find solace in that our whole nation joins them and shares their grief,” said the President.

Cde Manyonda served as MP for Buhera North after defeating the late Movement for Democratic Change president, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai during the 2000 parliamentary elections.

He was acting Chief Nerutanga at the time of his death.

Cde Manyonda was born in Buhera in 1934 and after completing his education he worked in various jobs in the industrial and commercial sector.

He became a member of the African National Congress of Rhodesia not long after its formation and then joined the National Democratic Party after the banning of the ANC, becoming the local branch secretary for the NDP in Gweru.

After a short period working in Livingstone, Zambia, Cde Manyonda returned to Gweru in 1962, where he was asked to become chairman of the Gweru branch of Zapu.

Also at that time, Cde Manyonda first became involved in trade union activity.

He obtained a post as an accounts clerk for Charles W Hall Ltd, a hosiery manufacturing company, and when workers at the factory decided to form themselves into a branch of the Textile Workers’ Union of Rhodesia, Cde Manyonda was elected the chairman.

At a national meeting in Kadoma, the union’s name was changed to the United Textile Workers Union of Rhodesia and Cde Manyonda was elected president.

Following the split in Zapu and the formation of Zanu in 1963, Cde Manyonda joined the latter organisation.

He became vice-chairman of the Gweru branch and was increasingly involved in both political and trade union activities.

In 1966 he was arrested and began what turned out to be over two years of detention.

On his release in 1968, he found himself unemployable in industry.

Instead, he obtained a full-time position with his union, first resigning his presidency which had continued during his detention.

Cde Manyonda organised the publication of a union newspaper, which led to his election as publicity secretary for the African Trade Unions Congress.

He left Rhodesia in 1970 after obtaining a British government grant to study industrial relations in the UK.

He came back after independence and worked in various Government departments until his appointment as Manicaland Provincial Governor.

He is survived by four children.

— Herald

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