Cde Msipa was wise, man of the peo­ple

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Obituary/worldwide - Isaac Waniwa Man­ag­ing and Pro­duc­tion Ed­i­tor

Cde Msipa, whose re­mains were in­terred at the Na­tional Heroes’ Acre on Oc­to­ber 22, 2016, was also for­mer Mid­lands gov­er­nor and Zanu-PF Polit­buro mem­ber.

To be hon­est I felt I was not qual­i­fied to write his obit­u­ary given that I only worked briefly with him in the Mid­lands province when I was as­signed to head our short-lived project (The Mid­lands Edi­tion of the Chron­i­cle pub­li­ca­tion) in 2009. I had of course in­ter­acted with Cde Msipa as a Mid­lands politi­cian in the 1990s dur­ing my stint as Mid­lands Bureau Chief.

It was when I was go­ing through my col­lec­tion of pic­tures that I was con­vinced that I had some­thing to say about this man who the na­tion has de­scribed as hum­ble, hon­est and straight­for­ward. A man who did not want to ben­e­fit from ill-got­ten wealth or abuse his po­si­tion for self-ag­gran­dis­e­ment as is the case with many politi­cians to­day.

The pic­tures that com­pelled me to con­trib­ute this lit­tle I know about Cde Msipa were taken in 2003 when he was Guest of Hon­our at the of­fi­cial open­ing of a re­fur­bished ser­vice sta­tion and cock­tail bar in Zvisha­vane.

The two busi­ness en­ter­prises be­longed to the late Bu­l­awayo busi­ness­man, Mr Ti­mothy Mangezi, who hailed from Neshuro com­mu­nal lands in Mwenezi dis­trict.

To the late Mr Mangezi, Zvisha­vane was his home town hence his de­ci­sion to in­vest in the min­ing town.

I was tasked by Mr Mangezi who had be­come a very close friend, to in­vite Cde Msipa to of­fi­ci­ate at the open­ing of his new look busi­nesses.

Mr Mangezi told me that he had so­licited the as­sis­tance of a war vet­eran to in­vite Cde Msipa as he felt he was not qual­i­fied to in­vite such a se­nior per­son in both the party and Gov­ern­ment but the process was tak­ing too long.

I told him that from the brief I knew about Cde Msipa, he was a very ap­proach­able gov­er­nor who did not need much pro­to­col. He then chal­lenged me to in­vite him on his be­half. When I con­tacted Cde Msipa over the phone and ex­plained why we wanted him to be the Guest of Hon­our, he said: “This is what we want and al­ways en­cour­age, I will def­i­nitely join you on the day”.

When I thought I had done my bit, Cde Msipa’s sec­re­tary con­tacted me a few days later when I was in Kariba at­tend­ing a work­shop.

She told me that Cde Msipa wanted to talk to me and I quickly ex­cused my­self from the work­shop. My heart started thump­ing as I won­dered what had gone wrong.

I was re­lieved when Cde Msipa told me that he had phoned to ad­vise that since he did not have the back­ground of Mr Mangezi and his busi­ness em­pire, I should send him a draft speech which I did as soon as I got back to Bu­l­awayo.

I then con­tacted our then Mid­lands Bureau Chief, Arnold Mutemi, to pro­vide cov­er­age for the event. On the night of the event as we made last minute prepa­ra­tions, I ad­vised Mr Mangezi that we should leave Bu­l­awayo very early for the event be­cause Cde Msipa was one se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial who was al­ways on time.

The pro­ceed­ings of the day were sup­posed to start at 10AM but un­for­tu­nately we had a break­down just be­fore Gwa­temba and I had to hitch-hike to Zvisha­vane leav­ing Mr Mangezi be­hind as I feared both of us were go­ing to be late for the event.

Mr Mangezi had said in the event he failed to make it on time, we were sup­posed to pro­ceed with the pro­gramme. When I ar­rived in Zvisha­vane and as I ex­pected, Cde Msipa who had given Mutemi a lift, had al­ready ar­rived wait­ing for us at Nil­ton Ho­tel, just op­po­site the event venue.

I greeted him, apol­o­gised for be­ing late and in­vited him and his del­e­ga­tion that in­cluded Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials from Zvisha­vane, to tour the two busi­ness premises. I ex­pected a tongue-lash­ing from him for keep­ing him wait­ing given his busy sched­ule but to my sur­prise the ever smil­ing Cde Msipa said he was sorry to learn that we had a break­down.

When we were about to take seats just af­ter the tour, Mr Mangezi fi­nally ar­rived much to the re­lief of ev­ery­one who feared he was go­ing to miss Cde Msipa’s ad­dress.

Af­ter the in­tro­duc­tions and as Cde Msipa was about to ad­dress the gath­er­ing, the then MP for Zvisha­vane Cde Pear­son Mbalekwa, who un­for­tu­nately was not on the pro­gramme as he had not been in­vited, walked in.

Cde Msipa then whis­pered to me as mas­ter of cer­e­monies to in­clude Cde Mbalekwa on the pro­gramme. He, in fact, said as the MP for the area he should be­ing given the op­por­tu­nity to say a few words to which I agreed. It is such wis­dom and fa­therly ad­vice that the na­tion at large has been robbed of fol­low­ing the demise of Cde Msipa.

He was that man who would not say he was too busy to at­tend to you. I re­mem­ber at his 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary in 2010 at Si­boza Busi­ness Cen­tre in Zvisha­vane where thou­sands had thronged the venue to join in the cel­e­bra­tions, he had a few min­utes to chat with me and other jour­nal­ists from the Mid­lands province de­spite a long queue of peo­ple wait­ing to con­grat­u­late him.

When we were about to leave he told us to grab one of the many cakes do­nated to him by com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als and I re­mem­ber him telling us not to for­get to give a piece to Jac­que­line Gwe­mende, a ZBC Mid­lands Bureau Chief.

The event was at­tended by the who is who in the Mid­lands and be­yond and com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als were jostling to pro­vide ser­vices at the event of a man they loved so much. Talk­ing to Cde Msipa about the land re­form, I re­mem­ber him telling me that he had al­lo­cated him­self vir­gin land close to Ngezi River in Zvisha­vane where he in­tended to es­tab­lish an ir­ri­ga­tion scheme.

He said he wanted to start his own ir­ri­ga­tion schemes as op­posed to tak­ing over an al­ready es­tab­lished in­fra­struc­ture or tak­ing a farm with a home­stead.

Cde Msipa, I be­lieve, was a very ac­com­mo­dat­ing per­son. What quickly comes to mind is when in the early 1990s he ac­cepted to con­test the rul­ing party Zanu-PF pri­maries in Gokwe de­spite the fact that his peo­ple wanted him in Zvisha­vane.

When he lost the pri­maries, you could tell from dis­cus­sions later dur­ing re­fresh­ments at Kam­basha Ho­tel at the then Gokwe Cen­tre that he did not have hard feel­ings. All he could say was that he was sur­prised that Gokwe peo­ple were say­ing they did not know him de­spite his im­mense con­tri­bu­tion to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle.

Cde Msipa had to wait for an­other five years to con­test in Zvisha­vane although the same year he lost in Gokwe, peo­ple in Zvisha­vane had asked one of the head­mas­ters to rep­re­sent him in the party pri­maries with­out even con­sult­ing him.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tive lost by a very nar­row mar­gin to Cde Tsun­giri­rai Hungwe, a con­fir­ma­tion that Cde Msipa could have eas­ily won the pri­maries. Cde Msipa was that in­di­vid­ual who did not hes­i­tate to tell you straight in your face if he felt you were wrong.

I re­mem­ber him burst­ing into our Gweru Of­fice to com­plain about a re­port by one of our re­porters who had cov­ered him while of­fi­ci­at­ing at Da­daya High School. He, de­spite the com­plaint, con­tin­ued to in­vite our re­porters to his func­tions and many of the times giv­ing them a lift in his car, a con­fir­ma­tion that he did not keep grudges.

The Mid­lands province and in­deed the na­tion has lost a fa­ther fig­ure who will be hard to re­place. The province and in­deed the na­tion is poorer with­out the ever smil­ing Cde Msipa who could in­ter­act with any class or age.

What is how­ever com­fort­ing is that the na­tion will be en­riched by his legacy that will live for­ever.

May his soul rest in eter­nal peace.

From left, Cdes Cephas Msipa, Ti­mothy Mangezi and Pear­son Mbalekwa watch some of the in­vited guests dance to mu­sic soon af­ter Cde Msipa of­fi­cially opened Cde Mangezi’s re­fur­bished busi­ness premises in Zvisha­vane in 2003.

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