An illustrious war veteran, Kombayi was on the frontline of Zimbabwes war of liberation against the rebel Ian Smith regime that brought the countrys independence in 1980. He was also part of the Lancaster House talks that led to the advent of black majority rule.
The first black mayor of Gweru, Kombayi served as a city father in the post-independent government with Prime Minister Robert Mugabe. He is on record stating that he fell out with Mugabe and Zanu (PF) after noticing the use of terror tactics to cling to power and the alarming ruination of the economy through patronage and corruption. As he became an outspoken critic of Mugabe in the first decade after independence, Kombayi became a target of the regimes wrath.
Disabled but fought on
In 1990, he was rendered an invalid after surviving a gun-attack by contract killers, Elias Kanengoni, a CIO operative and Kizito Chivamba, a Zanu (PF) youth leader. Kombayi had dared stand against the now late Vice President Simon Muzenda in legislative polls in Gweru. He was shot in the groin by the hit-squad but miraculously survived. He was on the campaign trail for the Gweru Central seat as a Zimbabwe Unity Movement (Zum) candidate.
Kanengoni and Chivamba were dragged to court, convicted of Kombayis attempted murder, but were immediately pardoned by Mugabe. They told the court that they had been hired by Muzenda to kill Kombayi. Kombayi, a wealthy hotel owner in Gweru, became a vociferous critic of Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
Again in 2001, after becoming a member of the newly-formed MDC, Kombayi survived another gun attack by a police officer after penning a damning opinion piece calling for the arrest of Mugabe.
A crusading fighter for democracy, Kombayi was the MDC provincial secretary for Gweru at the time of his death. The MDC, which for long has questioned the criterion used in conferring hero status, says Kombayi is “shrine material.”
“Nobody needs to confer hero status on him, but just his contribution to freeing this country from colonial rule and his role in helping democratize this country makes him a natural candidate for the highest honour in the land,” said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
But, Kombayis conferment with hero status depends on a decision by the Zanu (PF) Politburo, which has the exclusive prerogative of determining who is a national hero or not. Previously Zanu (PF) has refused to confer hero status on several illustrious cadres of the liberation struggle because they had turned critics of the Mugabe regime. A father of nine children, Kombayi is survived with his wife Mercy and six of his surviving children.Post published in: News