THE former Speaker of Parliament, Cde Cyril Enock Ndebele, has died.
He was 83. The veteran politician — who was also the chairperson of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission following his appointment in February this year — died yesterday morning in Harare after being airlifted by the Ministry of Defence from Bulawayo’s Mater Dei Hospital where he had been admitted for an undisclosed ailment.
A former Speaker between 1995 and 2000, Cde Ndebele is understood to have been hospitalised at the Roman Catholic Church-run hospital on Tuesday, but had to be airlifted when his condition deteriorated.
The Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, a relative to the former Speaker, said when doctors told her of the need to airlift him to Harare for further treatment, she quickly engaged Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko.
Cde Nyoni said Acting President Mphoko facilitated for the Ministry of Defence to assist.
“Yesterday at about 8PM, we heard that he was at Mater Dei Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit being
attended to by three family doctors who recommended that he be airlifted to Harare,” she said.
“I then called Acting President Mphoko and he acted swiftly and spoke to Defence Minister Sydney Sekeremayi whose Ministry also acted very quickly. Within two hours they were in Bulawayo to air lift him to Harare.”
She said death had robbed the Ndebele family of a principled man and an uncompromising leader.
“As the Ndebele family we’ve lost. He was a pillar of strength, an advisor, guiding star, honest, straight forward and a principled man,” Cde Nyoni said.
She said during his time as the country’s Speaker of Parliament, the National Assembly witnessed major reforms.
“He is the one who brought a lot of reforms to Parliament. He was a good Speaker of Parliament who brought about a lot of training for legislators,” Cde Nyoni said.
Former Deputy Senate president and Zanu-PF Central Committee member Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu said he learnt with great shock of Cde Ndebele’s death.
“I’ve just learnt about it. He was a fine gentleman. We worked together in PF-Zapu and Zanu-PF. He was pro-development,” he said.
The late Speaker joined the African National Congress in South Africa in 1960 while a student at the University of Natal. He earned a law degree from Queens University, Belfast, in 1970.
He became Zapu chairperson in 1970 after returning to the country. He was a member of the legal team of the Patriotic Front in the Geneva, Malta and Lancaster House conferences, leading to the country’s independence in 1980.
After independence, he was a councillor in Bulawayo and after the Unity Accord was signed in 1987, he became an MP in 1990. As a law maker, he was the chairperson of the Privileges Committee and the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
After he became the Speaker of Parliament in 1995, he created the Parliamentary Reform Committee, paving way for far reaching changes to the Legislative Assembly. He is survived by his wife, children and several grandchildren.
Mourners are gathered at his Bulawayo residence at Plot 7B in Woodville suburb chronicle