Dr Utete declared national hero

Former Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Charles Utete, who died on Friday, has been declared a national hero and will be buried at the national heroes’ acre on Tuesday.

Zanu PF Secretary for Administration, Dr Ignatius Chombo announced the news today at Dr Utete’s family home in Highlands, Harare, where senior Zanu PF members, government officials and service chiefs converged to convey their condolences.

Dr Chombo said Dr Utete’s works were enough testimony for the Politburo to arrive at a unanimous decision.

The Utete family thanked the government and the ruling Zanu PF party for according Dr Utete the national hero status, with family spokesperson, Dr Tapiwanashe Bwakura saying the late national hero was an exemplary man who inspired many family members to great achievements.

Dr Utete was the first black Chief Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet after Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980.

He later become Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet when the executive presidency was introduced.


Credited with pioneering the entire governance system in that office, Dr Utete will be the first civil servant to be buried at the National Heroes Acre.

He is survived by wife, Venna Utete and five children.

Mourners are gathered at number 4 Aldelide Close, Highlands, Harare.


I learnt with a deep sense of shock of the sudden death yesterday of Dr Charles Utete, the first black Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet after our Independence in 1980. An intellectual of renown, Dr Utete was at the centre of the transformation of our Civil Service from what it was at Independence, ensuring its rapid Africanisation but without compromising on systems, efficiency and best practices. This was no small task given the entrenched white Rhodesian ethos which had made the Civil Service a key lever of settler rule, black discrimination and oppression. Given his prior association with the liberation movement and vast knowledge in the tenets of public administration, we did not hesitate to appoint him to this key post which he discharged with distinction. As head of the Civil Service, he was at the centre of service delivery, always coordinating the drafting of policy initiatives which saw the new Government record key milestones, including reconciling a war-torn society, rehabilitating and re-integrating thousands of war displaced, as well as embarking on successive programmes of socio-economic transformation that underpinned our espousal and commitment to majority rule. With the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987, and the subsequent constitutional changes that ushered in Executive Presidency in 1988, Dr Utete characteristically rose to the occasion, again playing a seminal role in readjusting the massive Bureaucracy to the requirements and challenges implied by the new political and administrative situation His load was made heavier by successive shifts in economic policies which followed as the country tried out various models of growth and social development. When Government embarked on the Fast Track Land Reform Programme in 2000, Dr Utete found himself once again at the centre of even more taxing planning challenges which he managed admirably. A loyal, committed team player, the late Dr Utete’s services went far beyond the duties of a civil servant, readily making seminal inputs to key Party policies which helped ZANU-PF deal with emerging issues and challenges. What I personally found admirable about him was his humility and self-effacement against such a lofty role and his multiple contributions. He never beat his drum. It was the mark of the man who even after leaving Government in 2003, continued to accept and discharge assignments we continued to load on him in his “retirement”. Our Nation will remember his service in heading a Commission which reviewed our Land Reform Programme after its fast-track phase had been completed. The findings of that Review Commission will remain a milestone on our overall Agrarian Policy, indeed a major statement and resource for similar programmes beyond our borders. His invaluable advice which he continued to proffer to Government right up to the day of his demise will be sorely missed by all of us in Government.

On behalf of the Party ZANU-PF, the Government which he helped shape and which he saved whole heartedly, and on my own behalf, I wish to express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the Utete family, especially to Mrs Utete and the children who have lost such a loving and caring husband and father respectively. We robbed them of much of what would have been family time, and for their unconditional forbearance, but we in Government are truly grateful for his service and loyalty. As they grieve over the untimely death demise of the late departed, may they derive solace and comfort in his having served his Nation well and truly, which today salutes and thanks him heartily as he joins his Maker.

May his dear soul rest in eternal peace.

R.G. Mugabe