Friends launch Jongwe Trust to honour activist

jongwe_learnmoreHARARE - Former student leaders are launching a foundation in honour of the late Learnmore Jongwe (Pictured), former spokesman for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party.

The Learnmore Jongwe Trust will take off on October 24, when family and friends commemorate seven years since the death of the vociferous activist. Four of Jongwe’s contemporaries in the students movement back then, Takura Zhangazha, Pedzisai Ruhanya, Daniel Molokele and Chalton Hwende have come together to help propagate the ideas Jongwe stood for to ensure his spirit lives on. “A memorial service and unveiling of tombstone ceremony will be held at his resting place in rural Zhombe. At least a bus will be hired to ferry friends and supporters to Zhombe for the event,” said Ruhanya.

“But the greatest monument is to internalize those qualities, courage, honesty, commitment that Jongwe espoused,” said another committee member. “Some of us were fortunate to be on the same platform with Jongwe, but future generations will not have that simple opportunity. How do we ensure that Jongwe’s spirit lives on?” Jongwe, 28 then, was arrested in July 2002 and charged with murdering his wife. Jongwe admitted stabbing his wife Rutendo during a domestic row but denied intending to kill her. It was reported that he suspected his wife of infidelity and during a row, stabbed her eight times with a kitchen knife.

He tried to commit suicide after his wife’s death but was eventually persuaded to give himself up to the police. His body was found in his cell at Harare’s Chikurubi prison and an autopsy revealed that the young MDC MP died of excessive chloroquin poisoning. Jongwe studied law and became the leader of the students’ union, before practising law at a Harare legal firm. He was involved in several violent student confrontations with the police. He was elected to parliament in June 2000, for the Harare suburb of Kuwadzana, along with several other former student leaders who had helped form the MDC.

Ruhanya said: “Prior to his death, Jongwe served his nation with distinction both as a student leader with the University of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Students Union and also later as the national youth chairperson and spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change.” A Jongwe family spokesman said: “”We are in full support of this effort to set up a foundation in his honour.”

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