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Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa Zimbabwe

Ambassador Christopher Hatikure Mutsvangwa: A Life of Rich and Colourful Tapestry

Early life and Education

Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa was born 24 May 1955 at Harare General Hospital. He spent his early childhood in the now Mbare high density suburb of Harare before going to his rural village in Chief Nyamweda  to do his primary education at Masawi and Marirangwe South schools. Thereafter he proceeded to Kutama Marist Secondary where he studied with prominent luminaries like Minister Ignatious Chombo, Advocate Mucahadeyi Masunda, Dr Christopher Tapfumaneyi and Dr Washington Mbizvo under teachers such as Dr Ibbo Mandaza, Stanley Chigwedere among others.  He completed his high school at St. Augustines Penhalonga  scoring the highest national academic results at A Level in 1974.

Ambassador Mutsvangwa was among the seven black students selected to enter the Faculty of Law of the then University of Rhodesia in 1975. This was the highest number of African students ever selected to study in this specialized field which the racially skewed colonial education had hitherto preserved for white kindred. His record of academic achievement accorded him a full merit scholarship from the then colonial government of Rhodesia. His fellow students included Judge Paddington Garwe, late Judge Sandra Mwamuka Ngwira,  Advocates Eric Matinenga, Joseph James and Sobusa Gula Ndebele.

Ambassador Mutsvangwa has a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a Master of Public Management from St. John’s Catholic University in New York. He holds a diploma in Informatics from Boston University in Massachusetts.

Political Consciousness

As a young man, Ambassador Mutsvangwa grew up with stories of how the people of Mhondoro and Zvimba were forcibly moved from their original home in the Lake Chivero area to the narrow strip of rock strewn  fields where we grew up to make way for white colonial settlers.  Among them was Joseph Norton, a particularly notorious land depredator who fell along with his entire family to my clansmen as they defended their lands from his rapacity. It is after him that Norton Town is named. His grave is by the Morton Jaffray Waterworks. His death signaled the First Chimurenga where great Shona Chiefs like Mashaymombe led victorious battles that decimated early settlers only to be  defeated by fresh reinforcements from Port Elizabeth.

The rebellious locals kept to their tradition of resistance all way to the nationalist politics. Young Mutsvangwa used to go to school amidst the smoke of houses torched by Rhodesian racist police as they raided radical politicians who were burning tobacco farms of surrounding white racist commercial farmers.

Kutama was also a cauldron of nationalism with its streak of Quebec French Marist antipathy to British imperial dominance. St Augustines would augment this political radicalism with the non-conformist Father Prosser who had clear sympathies for the most intelligent among his pupils who were melting into the bush to cross into independent Zimbabwe as of 1975.

The National Liberation War

Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa together with Sobusa Gula Ndebele, the national heroes Ambassador Designate Willard Zororo Duri and Ambassador John Mayowe and pediatrician Dr. Masimba Mwazha all absconded from university studies and crossed into free Mozambique in 1975. They were among the early groups of the avalanche of patriotic youths that went on to join the fight for freedom and train as guerillas as they swelled the ranks of the ZANLA and ZIPRA forces of the ZANU and ZAPU led joint national liberation movement. The fighting prowess of these highly motivated cadres did not take that long in sweeping away the racist colonial order of Rhodesia. By 1980 the victorious forces of the Patriotic Front had succeeded in ushering Zimbabwe to national independence and full sovereignty.

Diplomatic Service

Ambassador Mutsvangwa was among the pioneer corps of the diplomats of new Zimbabwe. He was posted to Brussels, Belgium where he was accredited to both the European Union and the Benelux till 1985. Thereafter he proceeded to serve at the United Nations in New York under illustrious Dr Stanley Mudenge, a national hero. In 1989 he was seconded to Windhoek, where he was part of the Frontline States Observer Team sent to help chaperon the SWAPO victory to the national independence of Namibia. Ambassador Mutsvangwa left diplomatic service in 1990.

Professional and Business Life

Ambassador Mutsvangwa was appointed Director General of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in 1991. In 1994 eying business opportunities of the dotcom era, he left for a career in telecommunications as one of the early pioneers of the cellular, broadband and Internet industry of Zimbabwe. He was a leader consultant for the deployment of the first Siemens GSM digital switch of NetOne in 1998 and the first CISCO internet switch of TelOne in 1999. He was also behind several other trunk and ADSL projects with TelOne. Ambassador Mutsvangwa was a key player in the formation of POTRAZ together with the late Sarah Kachingwe, then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Politics and Ambassadorial Post to China

The epochal land reform program of President Mugabe and ZANU-PF by the close of the past century spawned new national challenges even as it opened up so many opportunities for the multitude of Zimbabweans. Most serious was the mortal threat the young republic as the irate Anglo-Saxon and West Europeans took umbrage at the dispossession of their racial kinsmen by the black indigenous majority. Sanctions and regime change were instituted to smother Zimbabwe out and if need be turn it to tinder by a war of aggression.

Ambassador Mutsvangwa waded back into political life to once again join a new fight in defence of the republic. Abandoning a promising family business career waded back to active politics and was elected to the Secretary of the Harare Province of ZANU-PF in 2000. After the elections in 2002, he was posted to the People’s Republic of China as ambassador. His brief was to anchor and drive the Look East Policy as Zimbabwe’s riposte to sanctions and regime change with the help of a China in phenomenal resurgence.

The assignment was a great success as it blunted and eventually overturned the western onslaught on Zimbabwe. The Look East Policy born out of necessity by President Mugabe has since become a boon not only to Zimbabwe but to the African continent as a whole. The now very topical African Renaissance is very much a product of the engagement with China that is rapidly ascending to pole position of the world economy.

Chairman of MMCZ and the Thaw with Washington

In 2012, Ambassador Mutsvangwa became Chairman of Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, a company that oversees the sale of $2.5 billion worth of Zimbabwe’s treasure trove of diamonds, platinum, coal, chrome, nickel and other minerals. He has successfully engaged major players in the diamond trade to blunt the effect of unfair American sanctions that are contrary to the KPCS spirit. He has also been at the heart of engaging the Obama Administration to the extent of helping in Mayor Andrew Young to  Zimbabwe as a Special Envoy of President Obama to President Mugabe. This diplomatic coup is a clear pointer to a thaw in the hitherto glacial relations that have been the hallmark of bilateral relations for more than a decade. Better prospects now await the aftermath of the July 2013 Elections.

Mutsvangwa is married to Monica Mutsvangwa, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. She is a fellow veteran of the armed struggle for national independence. Together they are blessed with four sons and a granddaughter.

Andrew Youn One Acre Fund

Meet the Boss is a How we made it in Africa interview series in which we pose the same 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.
1. What was your first job?
I was a delivery driver for a photography studio. At the time, I thought it paid good money.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
The biggest impact has been the real bosses of One Acre Fund, our farmers. Particularly those who are mothers. You will see them working the field with just a hand hoe and babies strapped to their backs – their strength constantly inspires me to keep improving the One Acre Fund model.
3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?
Hungry children. We should never, ever not be able to feed a child. There are 239m undernourished people on this continent, and conveniently, most of them live in farming families whose sole profession is to grow food. One Acre Fund has a solution that helps farmers to grow their own way out of hunger – and it’s time to scale that solution to reach as many people as possible.
4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful?
Listening and learning from the farmers we serve. Living among them in their rural communities has informed so much of One Acre Fund’s programme model and enables us to continually improve it. We get to see first-hand what’s working and what’s not, every day.
5. What are the best things about your country, Rwanda?
I just moved to Rwanda after living in Kenya for eight years, so I’m looking forward to exploring it more. One Acre Fund serves 75,000 farmers in Rwanda and I’m eager to meet more of them.
6. And the worst?
The mountains. It’s hard to get around. Living in rural Rwanda gives one a real sense of what access means – even if the smallholder farmers we work with could afford the inputs they need, physically reaching them on foot or bicycle is nearly impossible.
7. Your future career plans?
To serve 1m smallholder farmers by 2020.
8. How do you relax?
I enjoy baking bread. There’s a great recipe for no-knead bread that I use and I like being in the kitchen after a long day.
9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
Apply your skills and ideas towards the positive social good. Use the principles and rigor of business to advance a cause you care about and spend time learning directly from the people you want to serve.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
Invest and support in its smallholder farmers and meet their agriculture, economic and educational needs. Farmers are the answer.
In 2006, Andrew Youn co-founded One Acre Fund, a non-profit organisation that provides low-interest loans in the form of seeds and fertilisers to small-scale farmers in the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The organisation currently serves about 180,000 farmers, typically living on one acre of land. Youn graduated from Yale magna cum laude, is a former management consultant, and received his MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

Jaswinder Bedi Bedi Investments

Meet the Boss: Jaswinder Bedi, CEO, Bedi Investments
1. What was your first job?
In my father’s factory. My first assignment was to dye blue fabric that would be used to make blazers. Not only did the fabric come out purple, but it was also bleeding colour. I had done everything right except the temperature control. I learnt from my mistake and eventually became CEO. You learn a lot when you start from ground zero.
2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
I have always wanted to run a multinational company. For that reason I have always looked at opportunities beyond Kenya. I admire what Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs have done in disrupting technology. I call these people MAD and I also want to be MAD. I mean ‘Make A Difference’ (MAD). I want to make a difference.
3. The parts of your job keep you awake at night?
What keeps me up at night are all these big plans I have. Will I realise them or am I just going to become NATO (No Action, Talk Only)? A lot of people and governments are NATO. I want to deliver to myself. When I can’t deliver, it keeps me up at night.
4. The top reasons you have been successful?
I think I am an inspirational leader. I give people hope. When you look at the world with a mindset of teaching and encouraging people how to catch fish, you create a productive society.
5. What are the best things about your country, Kenya?
The weather is amazing. We have sunshine every day. There is no winter and no summer. That means our costs of doing business should be among the lowest in the world. We have neither the expense of heating or cooling. I also love the Kenyan people.
6. And the worst?
I think the worst is over. Yes there are challenges, but I look at them as opportunities. As a country we are on the runway sitting pretty ready for take-off. This continent is going to fly. Once we take off, there is no coming back.
7. Your future career plans?
I want to continue with the work I am involved in. There are many goals. What I enjoy doing the most is making a difference. I enjoy leadership positions where I negotiate trade agreements such as with the EU and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) legislation. If given the job of director general of the World Trade Organisation I’d probably take it because I’d be able to improve legislation in terms of trade. I have enjoyed working with different industry bodies. People call me ‘Mr AGOA’ because of my involvement in lobbying the extension of the legislation. Through that work I got to visit the Capitol Hill, testified in a congressional hearing and met many people including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I enjoy making an impact in society, and I think that will largely happen through trade.
8. How do you relax?
I don’t (laughs). I try to, but I don’t. I feel energised all the time. Even if I go to the Kenyan coast I quickly call and meet a customer to talk about work. I wouldn’t call myself a workaholic, but my wife does.
9. Your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
Never give up hope. Don’t be driven by desire to get rich quick. Learn the tricks of the trade. Walk up the ladder with patience. Persevere. Many people give up after six months. I persevered for 20 years to see this day where the textiles industry is now starting to boom across the continent. I could have easily jumped ship on many occasions but didn’t. You have to persevere. If you have a dream, chase it to the very end.
10. How can Africa realise its full potential?
I think Africa has all the right ingredients. What it needs is leadership to turn these ingredients into real life success stories. We have the talent, we have the labour and the financing is now backing us. We just need a common goal. Our society too often gets distracted easily. What we need is an alignment of vision and good leadership.
Bedi is the CEO of Bedi Investments, a textile mill manufacturing synthetic yarns, woven fabrics and apparel for export to the US and the EU. He is also executive director at Fine Spinners, a company that spins cotton yarns and manufacturers sewing threads.

Ranjith Kally Photographer South Africa

Internationally acclaimed, Durban-born photographer Ranjith Kally, has documented some of the key people and events involved in South Africa’s struggle for democracy. His pictures, dating back over 60 years, give us a glimpse into the tensions of the past, of the events that shaped our future.

Kally’s first camera, a humble Kodak Postcard, purchased for just sixpence, ignited a passion for photography that saw him quit his job at a shoe factory and pursue a career in photojournalism. He worked for two of the foremost publications of the time – the Golden City Post and Drum, where he spent nearly three decades, capturing pictures of anti-apartheid leaders like Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Monty Naicker and Chief Albert Luthuli; and capturing poignant moments in South African history, including the Treason Trial, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chief Albert Luthuli, and the Rivonia Trial.

In 1952, Kally won third prize in an international competition held in Japan out of a field of 150,000 entries, and in 1967 he was admitted to the Royal Photographic Society, London, for a selection of portraits. His pictures have graced newspapers around the world, they are part of the Nobel Collection, are featured in school textbooks, and are depicted on two South African postage stamps, yet he only held his debut solo exhibition in 2004, at the age of 79.

In April 2013, Kally was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in recognition of his long and prestigious career. An unsung living legend, he ranks among the most politically courageous and artistically gifted photographers of his generation. Kally’s life through the lens has left us a lasting visual legacy that will enlighten generations to come, of our fallen heroes and celebrated liberties.

Professor Thandinkosi E. Madiba

Professor Thandinkosi E. Madiba is an international authority on diseases of the colon and has established the first Colorectal Unit in KZN. He is founder of the Colorectal Cancer and Stoma Support Group as well as the UKZN Surgical Society. Madiba has played and continues to play an active role in the official structures of the University and the medical School by contributing to policy and strategy formulation. He has championed transformation at the Medical School and has initiated numerous sessions that have promoted and encouraged the notion of black women surgeons.

Vivian Reddy Edison Power Group

Vivian Reddy is a story of rags to riches, achieved through sheer determination and hard work. He is a great success story and shining example of the resilience and trailblazing new generation of Black South Africans. He started Edison Power with R500 and a bakkie and today Edison Power Group is the largest electrical company in South Africa, employing 2000 people with a multibillion Rand turnover. Born in Durban and from very humble beginnings, he has virtually single-handedly created a business empire with diverse interests in energy, casinos, healthcare, financial services and property development.

His stature and profile easily dwells among that of the top icons in South Africa and he commands the respect of both the financial and political hierarchy in this country and most parts of Africa.

On the road map to his formidable success, Vivian Reddy has never abandoned his commitment to contributing to the upliftment of the poverty stricken and downtrodden - providing amongst other things, numerous educational bursaries and launching and sponsoring the orphans of Aids Trust. Vivian Reddy's philanthropy extends to him being a patron of over 10 organizations in the fields of education, religion, the disabled, welfare organizations, community centers, health associations, feeding schemes, conservation programs, peace initiatives and cultural initiatives. The impoverished community of the Bayview Flats refer to him as a 'Community Hero' and he is in the process of creating a Community Centre and Soup Kitchen in the area which is home to the poorest of the poor.

Recently, he purchased the Luthuli Art Collection, which is to be donated to the Chief Albert Luthuli Museum in Groutville, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Chief Luthuli receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. The leading political, religious and business leaders in the country have acknowledged and are deeply appreciative of Mr Reddy's great philanthropic spirit. His successful track record has been underlined by numerous international and humanitarian awards that span from recognition in Japan, of his contribution to development of the Previously Disadvantaged People in South Africa to The Paul Harris International Fellowship Award for recognition of his contribution to the society.

David Masondo Soul Brothers

David Masondo was born in Hammersdale, Durban in 1950. He started his musical career, doing gigs in townships as Groovy Boys. He later founded the Soul Brothers, the band that has successfully realized the South African soul concept (umbhaqanga). He is the solo writer of all songs, and lead vocalist for the band.

The Soul Brothers have recorded over 30 albums since its formation in 1974.

  STALWARTS of South Africa’s music scene, the Soul Brothers have recorded over 30 albums since their formation in 1974.

Initially formed in KwaZulu Natal, the group have remained the slickest and most successful proponents of the mbaqanga sound which dominated South African urban music for over three decades

While their costume, choreography and some harmonies bear comparison to the American Soul music which inspired them, the group originated a sound and style which captivated South African audiences, most especially amongst migrant labourers who under Apartheid, were forced to leave rural homes to seek work in the cities.

The Soul Brothers themselves trod this path to Joburg, and it was this shared frame of reference which endeared the group to the massive working class audience of South African cities. 

The band was built around the rhythm section comprising bassist Zenzele "Zakes" Mchunu, drummer David Masondo, and guitarist Tuza Mthethwa who first played together in the “Groovy Boys?in Kwazulu Natal, and later as part of the “Young Brothers? 

Genre: mbaqanga
It was in Joburg that keyboardist Moses Ngwenya joined to create the Soul Brothers, and David Masondo made the move from drums to lead vocals. The combination of Masondo’s quavering soprano voice and Ngwenya’s percussive Hammond organ playing gave the Soul Brothers a unique and instantly recognizable sound. This core rhythm section was typically augmented with a brass section, guitars, and multiple vocal harmonies.

Although the Soul Brothers enjoyed massive acclaim and commercial success, the audience remained limited to South Africa, and neighbouring states. In 1983, members of the group travelled to Botswana, where they worked with the then-exiled Hugh Masekela, affording a mbaqanga underpinning to his seminal “Technobush" album.

Car crashes saw the deaths of three band members in 1979, and then bassist and founder member Zakes Mchunu in 1984. Despite these setbacks, Masondo and Ngwenya continued, performing with an expanded group that included not only musicians, but dedicated dancers.

David Masondo. © Steve Gordon The Soul Brothers visited UK and Europe in 1990 on their first international tour. Despite international releases, the group remain primarily a domestic phenomenon, who continue to notch album after album achieving gold status. They also operate their own successful recording, publishing and entertainment companies.

This biography Steve Gordon 2004

Themba Mkhize Millionaire Artiste

Themba Mkhize, born in Durban in 1957, was introduced to music at an early age. He discovered jazz while in high school and was spotted by local band, “Dukes Combo”. In 1981 he started performing professionally with the band “Sakhile”.
In 1984 Themba joined renowned band “Bayete”, and remained part of the celebrated ensemble for over ten years. He took a role in the musical “Buwa”, which was written by Caiphus Semenya and toured around Africa, featuring many musical greats.
After having worked with the best of South African musicians, including Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo and Miriam Makeba, Themba released his long overdue solo album, Tales from the South in 1999. His debut album was a glorious celebration of the experiences he had gained and served as a signature release of energy from this talented Durban musician.
The album received a warm response from critics and won three awards at the South African Music Awards in 2000, followed by Daimler-Chrysler’s Best Musician Award.
Themba’s musical virtuosity, coupled with his persistent attempts to marry traditional Zulu and Jazz idioms, have made him an artist worthy of world-wide attention.
In 2008, Themba released Scenes from South Africa, which presented key recordings from his solo albums, with trumpeter Hugh Masekela and vocalist Sibongile Khumalo as featured guests. His mix of African rhythms with American jazz created a pioneering style in the evolution of jazz and world music.
In addition to music and performances, Themba owns Mavovo Production Studios, and co-owns Thella Music with partner Stella Khumalo. The multi-award winning jazz maestro, producer, pianist and music director also conducts workshops to impart his musical skills and knowledge. His son Afrika Mkhize is also a world renowned Jazz musician who was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist of the year for Jazz in 2012.

Jeff Radebe

Jeff Radebe was born in Cato Manor in Durban in 1953 and lived there until 1958 when his family was forcibly removed to KwaMashu. He obtained a B.Juris degree from the University of Zululand in 1976; LLM in International Law from Leipzig University and studied at the Lenin International School, Moscow.

Radebe joined the African National Congress (ANC) during the student uprisings in 1976 and served his articles to become a lawyer in Durban. In 1977 he left the country for Mozambique then Tanzania on ANC instruction. He underwent military training with Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), but was arrested and convicted under the Terrorism Act of the Apartheid government after an unsuccessful secret ANC mission. Radebe was sentenced to 10-years imprisonment on Robben Island but was released in 1990 after organising a 12-day hunger strike to speed up the release of political prisoners. He subsequently became the chairperson of ANC’s Southern Natal Region, served on the Natal Regional Dispute Resolution Committee and as the chairperson of the Regional ANC Peace Forum. In 1995, he became a member of the Ex Political Prisoners Committee.

Among other achievements, he received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters by the Chicago State University and Leucospermum flower named Radebe Sunrise was bestowed in him in 2005. He was awarded Honorary Colonel by the South African Air Force, Mobile Deployment Wing in 2006.

He is South Africa’s longest continuously serving cabinet member, having been part of every national administration since 1994 under every post-apartheid President. He is currently the Head of the ANC Policy Unit and has served as Minister in the Presidency since May 2014 and is in charge of the National Development Program.

Jeff is married to Bridgette Radebe, South Africa’s first black female mining entrepreneur.

Photograph courtesy of

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