Daniel Madzimbamuto

1957-59 Chairman,Highfield Branch, ANCongress.
1975 (Sept.) Deputy Secretary for External Affairs, ANC (Nkomo).

Daniel Madzimbamuto was born on 8 October 1930 at Mrewa.  He was the eight child of a family of 10, his father was a farmer in the TTL.

He received his primary education at the local village school in Mrewa and at various Methodist mission schools in the area. In 1948 he went to Munali Secondary School in Lusaka where he remained until
1952 (Form IV). From there he went to Bulawayo hoping to obtain a scholarship to a South African university. Being unsuccessful in this, he took the advice of a friend and moved to Port Elizabeth in the hopes of earning enough money to finance himself at university. In Port Elizabeth he worked as a sales representative – and studied in the evenings for his Matriculation Exemption, which he obtained in 1955.

Unfortunately he was unable to save money in his job and in 1956, after a short period back in Rhodesia he joined a well-known circus in Cape Town. His post as publicity officer took him all round Southern Africa, an experience which he recalls with great pleasure. In March 1957 he returned to Southern Rhodesia and obtained employment as a sales supervisor. The team of salesmen for which he was responsible was spread throughout the country and he spent many weeks on the road, travelling throughout both Southern and Northern Rhodesia.

His early grounding in politics came from a teacher (Mr Sibanda) at Mrewa Mission in 1947. Here he learned something of civics and the mechanics of government. It was, however, at Munali that his real interest was fired. Many of those who were subsequently to rise to positions of power in Zambia (including Kenneth Kaunda, Arthur Wina and Mudenda) were either his colleagues or his teachers, and the atmosphere at the school — particularly in the period immediately prior to Federation — was very political.

In 1954 and 1955 he went each Sunday to S.A. African National Congress meetings and he recalls an outstanding speech from a Rhodesian visiting speaker, Thomas Ngwenya. When the inaugural meeting of the reconstituted Southern Rhodesia ANCongress was held in Salisbury (Harare) on 12 September 1957 Madzimbamuto was a delegate. He soon became Chairman of the Highfield Branch of the ANCongress and was also elected Chairman of the Highfield Ratepayers’ Association and Director of the Cultural Syndicate.

At this time Highfield Township was in its infancy and there was an almost total lack of amenities. In September 1958 Madzimbamuto led a delegation to Sir Edgar Whitehead (then Prime Minister) to press for roads, electricity, bus services, etc. Many of these facilities were subsequently provided and the prestige of the ANCongress and the Ratepayers’ Association increased accordingly.

Between 1957 and 1959 Madzimbamuto was also heavily involved in building up opposition to the Land Husbandry Act. He was prosecuted on several occasions for organising a campaign of ‘non-co-operation’ but never convicted. In late 1958 he was chairman of a large meeting addressed by Dr Banda (later President of Malawi) in Highfield. This meeting led to a large increase in membership and it was clear that the developing situation in Nyasaland was helping to build up the tempo of political activity in Rhodesia also.

When the state of emergency was declared on 26 February 1959 Madzimbamuto was at once detained. During the next four years he was held at various times in Khami Prison, Gwelo (Gweru) Prison, Selukwe (Shurugwi), Marandellas (Marondera) and Gokwe1 Restriction Area. He was released on 15 January 1963 as part of the new Rhodesian Front Government’s policy on detainees. He obtained employment with a petrol firm as a sales representative, but politics was by this time his prime preoccupation. He became a member of the PCC under Joshua Nkomo in July 1963, but did not take executive office. When some of the leaders were arrested in early 1964 he took charge once again of the Highfield area. His own arrest, however, was not to be long delayed. On 28 April he was sent with five others2 to ‘open up’ Gonakudzingwa.

He stayed at Gonakudzingwa for 12 months (apart from a short spell in Gwelo (Gweru) prison) and was then released. In June 1965, however, he was again detained — this time being sent initially to Wha Wha. A short second spell in Gonakudzingwa was followed on 8 November 1965 by committal to Gwelo (Gweru) Prison where he remained until 18 September 1972. He was then moved back to Gonakudzingwa, but the Portuguese coup in April 1974 led to yet a further move — this time to Salisbury (Harare) Prison. He remained there until his release on 24 December 1974 (“at 5.15 p.m.”, as he puts it with the exactness inseparable from a man whose life had been bounded by dates and times for 15 years).

While in detention he studied almost without pause, acquiring what he refers to as a “suitcase full of qualifications”. These included Certificates in Local Government, Public Administration, Advertising and Sales Management; Diplomas in Industrial Relations and Public Relations. His main effort, however, was directed towards obtaining a law degree, and this he succeeded in doing when he graduated LL.B. with the University of London.

He missed no opportunity of challenging the Government on the legality of his detention. When he was transferred from Gonakudzingwa to Gwelo (Gweru) Prison in 1964 he contested the issue in the High Court and was successful in having himself returned to the restriction area. Over the period 1966 to 1968 he maintained a legal assault on the authority of the Government to detain him at all. In this case he was finally unsuccessful when the High Court declared, in 1968, that the Government was both dejure and de facto the legal Government of Rhodesia.

Following the split in the nationalist movement in September 1975 he re-emerged as a supporter of Joshua Nkomo and was elected Deputy Secretary for External Affairs at the congress on 27-28 September. In November 1975 he accompanied Joshua Nkomo on a mission to Presidents Nyerere and Kuanda.

He was a member of the ANC delegation to the constitutional conference which started in Salisbury (Harare) on 15 December 1975 and which ended without agreement in March 1976. Since that date his responsibilities in the field of external affairs have taken him on several liaison visits outside Rhodesia.

On 13 October 1976 it was announced that Daniel Madzimbamuto would be one of the delegates to the Geneva Conference.

Daniel Madzimbamuto met his wife, Stella Nkolombe, during a holiday in Durban over the Christmas holiday period in 1955. She was then studying at McCord Zulu Hospital for a nursing qualification. They were married the following year in Cape Town. There are four children of the marriage. The eldest, Farayi (born 1956) is at present in England studying Pharmacy. Stella Madzimbamuto is a Senior Sister at Harare Hospital, Salisbury (Harare).

1 At Gokwe he became involved in the setting up of the Zimbabwe National Party (see entry on Dr Edson Sithole).
2 Joshua Nkomo, Joseph  Msika, Josiah and Ruth Chinamano, M. S. Marembo.