|Affiliation||ZANU - Patriotic Front
, , Zimbabwe
|| 00, 1937
|Last Modifed||Thomas Walker|
Feb 21, 2007 03:58pm
|Info||Edgar Zivanai Tekere (born 1937) is a Zimbabwean politician. He was a leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union who organised the party during the Lancaster House talks and served briefly in government before his popularity as a potential rival to Robert Mugabe caused their estrangement. He fought against Mugabe in the 1990 election and was heavily defeated, but remained involved in politics and has recently rejoined ZANU (PF). |
Tekere was an early ally of Robert Mugabe within the Zimbabwe African National Union (of which he was a founder member in 1964) during the fight for independence and against the Rhodesian Front government of Ian Smith. Mugabe and Tekere went together into Mozambique in 1975 to launch the war against Rhodesia, and Tekere was appointed as Secretary-General of ZANU.
When ZANU won the 1980 elections, Tekere was appointed Manpower Planning Minister from 1980 in Mugabe's Cabinet. He followed his appointment by making a series of outspoken speeches which went far beyond government policy. Shortly after his appointment, on August 4, 1980, he greeted Mugabe (then Prime Minister) and visiting President of Mozambique, Samora Machel in combat fatigues and announced that he was going "to fight a battle". Tekere and his bodyguards went looking for supporters of Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU outside Harare, but failing to find them, went onto a neighbouring farm and shot a white farm manager called Gerald Adams.
Tekere retained his government post when he went on trial together with seven bodyguards who were all former guerilla fighters in the independence war. On December 8 the High Court, on a majority decision, found him not guilty of murder. Two out of the three assessors held that while Tekere had killed Adams, he was acting in connection with the suppression of terrorism.
Tekere was dismissed from the government on January 11, 1981, a decision he was reported to be happy with; he retained the Secretary-Generalship of ZANU. In April 1981 he was detained by Kenyan security forces to prevent him from speaking to students after giving a newspaper interview in which he said he was proud of the killing of Gerald Adams. In July, Tekere referred to some ZANU representatives as having "inherited the colonial mentality", which was straining relations between them and the party's supporters. Mugabe hit back by saying "Those who are complaining that the revolution is not continuing .. are the most immoral and laziest in the party". Tekere was increasingly seen as a leader of a rival faction to Mugabe, and was dismissed as Secretary-General on August 9 with Mugabe taking the post himself.
When Mugabe launched 'Operation Gukurahundi' against Joshua Nkomo's supporters in Matabeleland in 1982, Tekere voiced his support for the action as necessary to prevent "a Biafra situation". After criticising corruption in the party, in August 1984 Tekere was elected to the Central Committee of ZANU (PF) and carried shoulder-high from the Congress; he was also being supported by the Whites in Zimbabwe after opposing the farm squattings by ZANU (PF) supporters which he described as "donga watonga" (chaotic government). He was provincial chairman of ZANU (PF) in Mutare.
Tekere supported Mugabe at the 1985 elections but by October 1988 his consistent criticism of corruption resulted in his expulsion from the party. When Mugabe voiced his belief that Zimbabwe would be better governed as a one party state, Tekere strongly disagreed, saying "A one-party state was never one of the founding principles of ZANU(PF) and experience in Africa has shown that it brought the evils of nepotism, corruption and inefficiency".
He ran against Robert Mugabe in the 1990 Presidential race as the candidate of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, offering a broadly free market platform against Mugabe's communist-style economic planning. Mugabe won the election on April 1, 1990 receiving 2,026,976 votes while Tekere only got 413,840 (16% of the vote). At the simultaneous Parliamentary elections the ZUM won 20% of the vote but only two seats in the House of Assembly. Zimbabwe Unity Movement supporters were the targets of violent attacks from supporters of ZANU (PF), and five candidates were murdered, a student represantative Israel Mutanhaurwa of ZUM was abducted in broad daylight by suspected state agents at the local cinemas in Gweru to be dumped later in the outskirts of Mkoba a local surbub unharmed, noone was arrested or convicted of the crime. Those convicted of the attempted murder of former Gweru Mayor Patrick Kombayi who was shot in lower abdomen but survived the shooting, were pardoned immediately afterwards.
Tekere dropped out of sight after the election, fuelling rumours that he was planted as an opposition figure. In 2005 he voiced his wish to stand as a ZANU (PF) candidate for the Senate of Zimbabwe but was rebuffed. In 2006 it was reported that he had rejoined ZANU (PF). A letter sent to him by ZANU (PF) national chairman John Nkomo dated April 7, 2006 said "You will not exercise your right to be elected to any office in the party for a period of five years. You will be required to uphold all the duties of a member listed in Article 3, Section 18 of the amended Zanu PF constitution".