Did Joel Biggie Matiza actually participate in the liberation struggle? How old was he? 14 or 17? These questions are bothering many after government spokesperson Nick Mangwana claimed that Matiza fought in the Second Chimurenga liberation war with ZIPRA after joining the struggle in 1975. For a person born in 1960, this means he went to war aged about 14 to 15. Was he a child soldier?

The Herald however claims that he joined ZIPRA in 1977 when he was about 17 years old making it very unclear and causing critics to say he never went to any war.

Two lines on his Wikipedia profile page does not mention anything about his liberation war background.

Writing on social media platform Twitter, Mangwana said:

In 1975, Cde Matiza joined ZIPRA training camps in Zambia for military training. In 1978, the RF raided Freedom Camp where Cde Matiza was based. 226 freedom of fighters were killed by machine gunfire. Cde Matiza survived but suffered injuries.

Due to the severity of his injuries, he was taken to Lusaka for medical treatment and was admitted in hospital. Later, Cde Matiza was identified as one of the intelligent young people in the ranks. He was sent to Nigeria to pursue further education.


The Herald posted the message below about his background:

Cde Matiza’s Biography

  • Was born on August 17, 1960 in Murehwa and served as Murehwa South House of Assembly member and his previous portfolios in Government include being Minister of State for Mashonaland East Province.
  • At the time of his death, he was a Zanu PF Central Committee member and previously served in Government as Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
  • He joined the liberation struggle in 1977 as a Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) cadre.
  • He attended local schools before going to Nigeria for his tertiary education, graduating with a BSc Hons degree in Architecture and an MSc degree in Architecture from Ahmadu Bello University.