1960-61 District Chairman, Fort Victoria (Masvingo), NDP.
1961 -62 Provincial Chairman, Fort Victoria (Masvingo), ZAPU.
1963 National Chairman, PCC.
1972 National Chairman, ANC.
1975 (Sept.) National Chairman, ANC (Nkomo).
Samuel Munodawafa was born at Morgenster Mission near Fort Victoria (Masvingo) on 14 March 1917. He was the eldest child of a teacher-evangelist who served with the Dutch Reformed Church for 30 years.
Samuel began his primary schooling at Gutu Mission, but after Standard III moved to Morgenster with the intention of progressing to Standard VII and qualifying – as a primary school teacher. However, although he was at this time very religious he constantly recalled the fate of his father who, after a lifetime of service to the Dutch Reformed Church, found himself retired without pension or resources. Samuel, therefore, decided to transfer to Domboshawa Government School and to train as an agricultural demonstrator.
In 1937, having completed three years of the required training, he was forced to abandon his studies through lack of funds. In 1938 he worked for a time as a clerk on the Mashaba Mine and then moved to Bulawayo to train as a medical orderly.
He qualified in 1942 and served during the next five years in Marandellas (Marondera) (where he was responsible for opening a new clinic in the Chiota Reserve), Inyati and Sinoia (Chinhoyi). In 1947 he went to Salisbury (Harare) to train as a laboratory assistant at the Pasteur Institute. He remained at the Institute for five years, eventually becoming an instructor for microscopists.
In 1952 he was transferred to Ngomahuru Leprosarium where he worked under Dr Mostert as a microscopist. From there he went to Gwanda Hospital – also to work as a microscopist, this time under Dr Osborne. In 1953 he was promoted to the rank of Senior Medical Assistant and transferred to Essexvale Clinic. In the same year, however, his father died and, in order to retain the right of the latter’s farm, it was necessary for him to give up his medical career and occupy the property in the Mushawasha African Purchase Area.
Munodawafa did not, however, remain long on the land, being able to negotiate with the Native Commissioner for his younger brother to take his place. He then moved into Fort Victoria (Masvingo) where he obtained a post with the Municipality in the clinic for special diseases. He remained in this post for nearly nine years, putting down roots as a family man and becoming involved in welfare activities, in the formation of various societies and in the building up of football clubs. He also became President of a Nursing Orderlies’ Association and on one occasion travelled to Nyasaland (Malawi) in order to establish liaison with a similar organisation there.
In 1959 he became a member of Garfield Todd’s CAP but soon found himself at odds with the hierarchy on policy matters. Thus it was that, when the NDP was formed in 1960, he moved for the first time into nationalist politics, being elected Chairman for the Fort Victoria (Masvingo) District. With the formation of ZAPU in December 1961 he was promoted to the post of Provincial Chairman for the Fort Victoria (Masvingo) District. In September 1962 ZAPU was banned and Samuel Munodawafa was restricted for three months to a 10 mile (16 km) radius from Fort Victoria (Masvingo). When he came
out of restriction he lost his job with the Fort Victoria (Masvingo) Municipality and returned to the family farm in the Mushawasha APA. By this time, however, politics had taken a hold on him and in 1964 he took part in sit-ins at the Dutch Reformed Church – part of a widespread campaign of entering places where previously Africans had not been permitted. His activities led him into fierce arguments with DRC members, as a result of which the Separatist African Reformed Church was formed. The sit-ins also attracted the attention of the police and in October 1964 Munodawafa (as National Chairman of PCC) was arrested and restricted to Gonakudzingwa for one year. He was released on 9 November 1965 – two days before UDI, an event which caused him great concern.
Although he remained on his farm for the next six years and joined various farming organisations, he was only waiting for the opportunity to return to political life. The chance came with the publication of the Smith/Home constitutional proposals in November 1971. Together with A. F. A. Chirongoma, and by the use of some of his own money, he organised a public meeting of protest in Fort Victoria (Masvingo) and invited Judy Todd1 to speak. Only after the meeting did he discover that similar objections to the proposals in other parts of the country were leading to the formation of a single movement – the ANC.
When the Pearce Commissioners came to Fort Victoria (Masvingo) in January 1972 Munodawafa gave evidence on behalf of the ANC. Shortly afterwards – following disturbances in Fort Victoria (Masvingo) – he was arrested and detained for 30 days. On his release he went into active political work with the ANC and was appointed National Chairman. When, on 2 September 1975, the appointment of the Rev. N. Sithole and others to the ZLC in Lusaka was announced, he called a special meeting of the National Executive which, in its turn, approved the summoning of a congress on 27-28
September 1975. For this action he was ‘expelled’ from the ANC by Bishop Muzorewa.
The congress took place, however, as arranged and Munodawafa was elected to the post of National Chairman under the Presidency of Joshua Nkomo. Immediately following the congress he was sent on an external mission to brief the Presidents of Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Mocambique on recent events. He was away from Salisbury (Harare) from 3 to 27 October. He was appointed a member of the ANC delegation to the constitutional conference which was convened in Salisbury (Harare) on 15 December.
His importance to the ANC (Nkomo) cannot be over-estimated. His influence in the Fort Victoria (Masvingo) area where ZANU has always enjoyed considerable support, is a vital counter-balancing factor. Through both his work as a farmer and as an employee of the Fort Victoria (Masvingo) Municipality he is a well-known figure in the district and his experience and mature judgement command wide respect.
Early in October 1976 his farm was attacked and the buildings were set on fire.
On 13 October it was announced that he had been appointed a member of the ANC (Nkomo) delegation to the Geneva Conference.
Samuel Munodawafa is married and has three sons and five daughters. One son, who was born with an eye defect and who studied at Capota, is now a musician with the Super Band at Fort Victoria (Masvingo); one daughter lives in the United States, and having graduated B.Sc., she is now planning to go into dentistry. Another daughter works in Rhodesia as a dress designer and cutter.