By Tendai Kamhungira
Family members and friends of former top civil servant ,former Zimbabwe Chess Federation President and chairperson of the State Procurement Board (SPB), Charles Kuwaza — who died on Tuesday after falling nine floors from a high-rise Harare building — are raising doubts about claims that he may have committed suicide.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, they said it was “inconceivable” that Kuwaza, 63 — who was known as “a hard man” — could have decided to end his life as is suspected.
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti, who worked closely with Kuwaza during the era of the government of national unity, was also among the people who said it was unfathomable that he could have committed suicide.
“A fine chess player with a strong mind. He can’t possibly commit suicide,” Biti wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter upon learning of Kuwaza’s death.
While some family members were expressing some disquiet behind the scenes, they said they would allow police to conclude their investigations before they commented officially about the circumstances surrounding Kuwaza’s death.
“The feeling among the family is that let the police conclude their investigations before we can make our statements,” one family member told the Daily News yesterday.
However, another grief-stricken relative raised concerns about Kuwaza’s missing mobile phone.
He apparently had his cellphone when he went to his office before he plunged to his death, and the phone allegedly continued to ring when they called his number soon after he perished.
Relatives also said yesterday that Kuwaza’s funeral arrangements were yet to be made, with family members and friends gathered at his Borrowdale residence.
Kuwaza plunged to his death on Tuesday after falling nine floors from a high-rise building — in a tragic case suspected at the time to have been suicide.
He had been on bail in a fraud case involving at least $1 million.
Eyewitnesses who spoke to the Daily News on Tuesday said Kuwaza had been in the company of a woman, believed to be his wife when he died.
He had apparently left the woman in the parking lot at Club Chambers, while he went into the building to collect some documents to help with his defence in the fraud case.
One of the people who spoke to the Daily News and who works at a building close to Club Chambers said he had heard a “sickening thud” before he rushed there to see what was happening.
Upon getting there, he discovered the lifeless body of Kuwaza lying next to his car.
Kuwaza, also a former Zimbabwe Chess Federation president, was freed on $2 000 bail in absentia late last month after he fell ill, forcing the ensuing court proceedings to be conducted at a local clinic where he was receiving medical assistance.
He was facing one count of theft, two counts of fraud and two counts of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.
Prosecutors alleged that during his time at the SPB, Kuwaza had engaged in several criminal activities which had prejudiced the State.
He had previously served as the permanent secretary for the ministries of Finance and Defence between 1994 and 2000.
In 2001, he was appointed as the chairperson of the SPB and operated from the President’s Office until he was sacked in October 2015.
Kuwaza was a renowned chess player who not only distinguished himself nationally but also internationally, winning several awards. Daily News