ONE of the country’s longest serving traditional leaders, Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu, has died.

He was 86 years old.

Chief Maduna was recovering from a stroke he suffered on 18 August 2019.

Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni released the information via his Twitter account.

“With a heavy heart and a sense of great personal loss I’d like to announce the passing of great paramount Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu at 1am this morning,” he said.

Maduna is one of the unsung heroes of the country’s liberation struggle having been detained for a number of years for his involvement in the nationalist movement in the 60s and 70s.

Maduna started politics in 1960 during the time of the National Democratic Party (NDP) which was led by the now late Vice-President, Dr Joshua Nkomo.

Chief Maduna was married to Lizzie Maduna Mafu (nee Mpala).

Following his political activities at that time he was arrested and brought before a magistrate at Filabusi and was charged under the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act (LOMA). He denied all the charges that were laid against him. At the end of the trial he was acquitted because of the manner in which he had defended himself, as he had chosen to defend himself, he was a self-actor.

After the banning of NDP in December 1961 and Zapu was immediately formed.

Chief Maduna continued with his political activities until Zapu was banned in September 1962. In October 1962 he then crossed the border to Zambia and lived in Kitwe where he continued with his political activities until 1964, after, which he returned home.

During the Pearce Commission of 1972 an attempt by both the British and Ian Smith to legitimise Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence, Chief Maduna led his people in Insiza District to reject the Commission.

As he continued with his political activities in 1976 he was arrested and detained at Gwanda Prison. After spending a number of months there he was transferred to Colleen Bawn Prison.

In his stint at Colleen Bawn Prison, Chief Maduna was kept in solitary confinement for a long time. From there he was taken to West Nicholson before being moved to WhaWha Prison in the Midlands Province. Frantic efforts by his people to visit him at the prisons were blocked by the authorities.

It was at WhaWha where he met detainees from all over the country. He was in Camp Four. He was detained with people like Elliot Maphenduka, Welshman Mabhena, Makhathini Guduza, Walter Mbambo and Thengani Guduza.

Chief Maduna said he remained in detention until the ceasefire period and when he was released, he was given a hero’s welcome by his people with 13 cattle donated by his subjects for the celebrations. Of the 13, 10 were slaughtered for the celebration party.

In 1981 he was elected a Zapu councillor and became the first chairman of the Insiza Rural District Council. Chief Maduna was also elected the party’s vice-chairmen for Matabeleland South Provincial Authority.

In 1984 at PF-Zapu Congress, he was elected into the Central Committee and was to remain a member of the Central Committee until the signing of the Unity Accord between Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu on 22 December 1987.

After the unity of the two liberation movements, Chief Maduna served the party in various capacities including being a member of the National Assembly.

However, of late Chief Maduna has courted controversy as he has been viewed as advancing the cause of some anti-Government groups, but he flatly refused that he is anti-Government, a sentiment also shared by his wife.

“I support the Government of President Mnangagwa, the problem is that maybe I am too accommodative, people of different political persuasions visit me here at my home. When they leave they go and make political capital out of meeting me,” said Chief Maduna, who has a huge portrait featuring Vice-President Chiwenga and himself flanking President Mnangagwa.