Elphas Mukonoweshuro: An obituary

The passing on of Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro has created a major void on the Zimbabwe political landscape. I had known the good Prof for a long time. We went to high school together at Zimuto Mission near Masvingo.

Eliphas Mukonoweshuro
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro

We used to compete in terms of getting the highest marks for all written work. We used to pride ourselves in writing essays that would not have even a single grammatical error. It was a competition in excellence and we found out later in life that it paid off tremendously. When we met and taught at Zimbabwe’s top institution of higher learning, UZ, we were more mature and no longer competitors but good friends.

Elphas was an intelligent academic who viewed political developments in our country with considerable suspicion. He always wanted to know the motive of an individual for taking certain actions. He loved to argue about the numerous wrong decisions made by those in political offices as the nation began to slide down into corruption and bad governance.

The Department of Political and Administrative Studies at UZ has lost a long-standing senior member who invested most of his energies in building up that institution. There were times when Elphas and a few colleagues would discuss UZ matters in relation to the appointments of such senior positions as the Vice Chancellor and the Pro-Vice Chancellor.

Most of us were convinced that under Zanu-PF, the UZ Council was unlikely to appoint a Mukaranga or a Manica or Ndebele as VC or Pro-VC. Right or wrong we were able to cite many examples of how the Zezurus were preferred as VC and PVC by the powers that be.

None of this ever deterred Prof Mukonoweshuro from excelling in his teaching, research and publications. He inspired many young people to stop being satisfied after attaining just the first degree. A lot of his students have since attained higher degrees locally and abroad.

Unlike some of us academics, who dress like poor students, Elphas was always immaculately attired. I do not remember him wearing jeans or a T-shirt at any time. He was a real gentleman. Yet he was never one to take any nonsense from anyone. He fought and won many battles both at UZ and in the MDC-T.

At one time, some raw elements within the Zanu-PF hierarchy toyed with the idea of closing down the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, arguing that it was teaching student politics and the students were becoming unruly. Elphas was among those of us who fought tooth and nail to resist the move to close that department.

I have also interacted with him since he became Minister of the Public Service, a position that suited him well as a Political Scientist. Zimbabwe has lost a gallant man who knew the intricacies of ideology and politics of this complex country. The MDC-T has lost a serious member who was instrumental in its formation from day one.

Zimbabwe itself has lost a national hero as President Tsvangirai said at Elphas’ funeral. The UZ has lost one of its shining stars in academic excellence and commitment to the highest standards of education. It will be very difficult to fill the good Prof’s shoes. The Mukonoweshuro family has lost a beloved father, son, brother and husband in the prime of his life. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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