Justice Mtambanengwe rejected Heroes Acre

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THE late Justice Simpson Mtambanengwe was against burial at the Heroes Acre, his family indicated this week, adding that the respected jurist would be laid to rest at his village home in Manicaland.

There is no indication however, that the ruling Zanu PF party was considering the country’s highest honour for the judge who was a key backer of the so-called Nhari Rebellion during the liberation struggle.

Justice Mtambanengwe died this Thursday in Windhoek Namibia.

Family representative Rumbidzai Ndoro said the late jurist had had been unwell for some time.

“He got into hospital in January for about two weeks. Then, most recently, he went into hospital on the 4th of May and never came out,” Ndoro told NewZimbabwe.com.

Asked whether the family would ask Zanu PF to consider hero status for the late judge, Ndoro said; ““Hell no; he did not like that.

“He will be buried at Dambakurimwa village in Mutare. The date will be announced once his body has been repatriated.”

Mtambanengwe was a pro-liberation activist as president of the Zimbabwe Students Union while studying in London. He also attended the 1964 ZANU congress in Gweru where he was elected secretary for international affairs.

However, he would be a key figure in the 1974 Nhari rebellion when Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA)fighters in Chifombo, Zambia rebelled against the political leadership, accusing them of leading extravagant lifestyles in Lusaka.

The rebellion was forcibly put down by ZANU defence chief Josiah Tongogara.

Born at Old Mutare in December 1930, Mtambanengwe attended school at Mutambara Mission and Goromonzi School, after which he worked as a teacher for one year.

He studied then English and History at the then University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1959 after which he then studied law at the Inner Temple in London, becoming an advocate in 1963.

After practising law in the United Kingdom until 1964, Mtambanengwe returned to Rhodesia, working as advocate until 1979.

Judicial career

From 1979 on he worked as a lawyer in independent Zimbabwe until 1986 when he was appointed a High Court Judge. In 1994, he was appointed to the Namibian High Court.

Mutambanengwe also served on the Supreme Court of Namibia, both as acting Chief Justice of Namibia and after his retirement several times as Acting Judge of Appeal.




He was appointed chairman of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) on 31 March 2010, resigning in February 2013, shortly before the scheduled referendum on a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile current ZEC chairperson and Judiciary Services Commission (JSC) secretary Justice Rita Makarau expressed her condolences to the Mtambanengwe family.

Mourners are gathered at number 36 Walls Road in Mandara, Harare.