Former Secretary to the president and Cabinet Charles Utete has been declared a national hero becoming the first civil servant to do so.He is credited for bringing Grace Marufu to Mugabe, where she worked as a junior typist before recommended her as a wife.
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But Utete was more than a civil servant. He called the shots and was regarded during his tenure as the de facto Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, especially after 1987 when the country’s first Prime Minister Robert Mugabe was elevated to executive president.
Utete, who was a permanent secretary from 1980 to 2003, ruled the roost, deciding who should become minister, who should be appointed ambassador and who should be posted to which country especially the coveted cities like London, New York (for the United Nations), Washington, Brussels, Geneva or Bonn.
Chikomba, where he came from, was the axis of power in the country. It boasted of such political heavyweights like former army commander Solomon Mujuru, war veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi and of course, the First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Mujuru was one of the most powerful powerbrokers in the country until his mysterious death in 2011. He has been viewed as a kingmaker, calling the shots from behind the scenes, but reportedly without any presidential ambitions of his own.
He fell out of favour when he openly opposed Mugabe’s candidacy for the 2008 presidential elections but Mugabe kept him in the politburo until his death.
Chikomba was also the home of Chenjerai Hunzvi, the man who changed Zimbabwe’s politics from 1997. Hunzvi, a junior medical doctor, rose from political oblivion after certifying war veterans as severely disabled so that they could be awarded astronomical compensation.
He was catapulted to lead war veterans although most doubted his liberation credentials. But he won their hearts when he forced the government to award them hefty pay packages which were, unfortunately, not budgeted for.
Though he should have rotted in jail for his very unprofessional assessments which granted favoured candidates disability of over 100 percent, Hunzvi became the ZANU-PF darling when he led farm invasions and the violence that accompanied the elections in 2000. When he died the following year he was declared a national hero when he had done practically nothing except bankrupt the nation.
Chikomba is also the home of the First Lady Grace Mugabe. Grace is now a powerhouse in her own right especially since her election to the powerful post of Secretary for Women’s Affairs in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. She claims to have no presidential aspirations but her behaviour says otherwise.