Zanu PF's Political Commissar Elliot Manyika Dies

Bulawayo – The Minister Without Portfolio Eliot Manyika and Zanu PF National Political Commissar died on Saturday in a road accident on his way to Bulawayo to monitor Zanu PF provincial elections to restructure the party ahead of the party's annual congress which opens Wednesday in Bindura.

Early reports on Saturday said the minister, who was also Bindura Member of Parliament, had earlier been admitted to the private Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo where he later died.

The party’s Bulawayo Province was rocked with problems. Last month the party chairperson in the city, Macleod Tshawe, said he would not seek re-election when the polls take place at Zanu PF’s provincial headquarters. Tshawe’s pullout came at a time when six members of his executive left Zanu PF to join the revived PF Zapu.

The six include secretary for information and publicity Effort Nkomo, secretary for administration Tryphine Nhliziyo and secretary for security Andrew Ndlovu.

It had been suspected that the executive opted out of the elections after a commission of inquiry set up by Zanu PF to investigate events leading to the revival of PF Zapu accused them of plotting to desert the party.

Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo had not disclosed  the full contents of the commission of inquiry report, but briefly said the probe revealed that the organisers of a recent PF Zapu meeting wanted to "embarrass" Vice-president Joseph Msika when they invited him address their indaba.

Manyika had insisted the polls would go ahead, but declined to shed light on political developments in the province.

Manyika (53) died after he was involved in a road accident on the 145-kilometre peg along the Zvishavane-Mbalabala Road yesterday morning. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo.

Police spokesman Superintendent Andrew Phiri confirmed the minister’s death last night.

"I can confirm that this is what has happened," he said.

According to Supt Phiri, Mr Manyika was travelling from Mutare to Gwanda in Matabeleland South where he intended to preside over the election of Zanu-PF leaders in that province.

The official Mercedes-Benz in which he was travelling burst a tyre, resulting in the driver losing control. The vehicle then rolled once and veered off the road before uprooting several small trees.

Both the minister and driver were trapped. A doctor, who was driving by, later ferried them to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The driver is, however, said to be recovering.

Born on July 30 1955 at Rosa Clinic in Chiweshe, Manyika did his primary education at Madombwe and Bare schools. After completing Standard Six at Bare, he attended Kutama College.

In 1974, he was arrested for allegedly writing and circulating subversive statements while waiting for his O-level results.

He was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released after 18 months under strict conditions. As a result of the incarceration, he could not proceed for Advanced level.

He, however, sat for the examinations after Independence, during which time he also obtained diplomas in Accounts and Business from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He later studied for a Masters degree in International Policy Studies with the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

Mr Manyika joined the Zanu-PF Youth League together with the late Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation, the late Mr Border Gezi, in 1982.

He rose through the ranks, becoming the youngest provincial secretary for administration in 1986. He served under the leadership of Chen Chimutengwende, Cde James Makamba and the late Cde Joseph Kaparadza.

He also worked in different capacities in Government, including that of under-secretary in the President’s Office. He worked for the then ministries of Local Government and National Housing and Women’s Affairs.

He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 1990 as under-secretary (administration) before being promoted to deputy secretary for administration and finance in March 1992. He became the deputy secretary for political and economic affairs in May 1996.

At party level, he was elected to the Zanu-PF central committee and also became Zanu-PF deputy secretary for information and publicity.

In 1999, he was appointed Zimbabwe’s High Commissioner to Malawi before returning home in 2000 to become Mashonaland Central Governor and Resident Minister.

He took over the position from Mr Gezi who had been promoted to Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation. In this role, Mr Manyika was instrumental in the implementation of the fast-track land resettlement programme in the province.

He was to become Bindura Member of Parliament in the following year after the death of Mr Gezi. He also filled in the ministerial post of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation. In this capacity, he oversaw the implementation of the national youth service, which is aimed at orienting the youth to fully participate in national development programmes and to prepare them "for the world of work in their country".

He also helped to initiate income-generating projects in the country’s different communities while also championing gender issues.

He became Zanu-PF national political commissar in 2001, a position he held until the time of his death.

Among his duties as political commissar were organising party structures and mobilising support ahead of national elections.

Many will remember him for his energetic mobilisation tactics, which at times saw him take to song and dance.