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.
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.
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.
Labels: Advocate Mucahadeyi Masunda, Ambassador Christopher Hatikure Mutsvangwa, Christopher Mutsvangwa, Dr Christopher Tapfumaneyi, Dr Washington Mbizvo, Ignatious Chombo