Friday, 3 December 2021

I STRONGLY BELIEVE MUNATSI'S DEATH WAS A HIT: NCUBE

By Trevor Ncube

Douglas Tawanda Munatsi was a remarkable human being. It is difficult, almost impossible to write about him in the past tense. Because Doug filled every room he walked into with so much life. In this tribute, because it is more than just an obituary, I would like to reflect on aspects of the Doug I knew, from the personal to the professional and the public.

I knew Doug for over 30 years. He grew to become more than just a dear friend, he was my brother. I am godfather to his eldest son. He and his wife Bindzile are godparents to our daughter Maya. Our families shared many unforgettable moments over the years. Even as we mourn Doug’s passing, we are comforted by these moments. We will always cherish the joy he brought into our lives.

“Mzukulezi how are you and Allbody? You are always in my prayers” was one of Doug’s many ways of greeting me and checking on my family. He was my “Sekuru” because he was Nzou, my late mother being Ndlovu. I will miss Doug on so many levels.

Doug and l joined the Wingate Golf Club at about the same time. We had lots of fun on the golf course. We would go on to take our shared passion for golf to many courses around the world. A round of golf takes quite a few hours to complete, and Doug was the best companion to share that time with.

He had a great sense of humour. Not only did he have us all in stitches with his mischievous anecdotes, he would be reduced to tears as he laughed at his own funny stories. Like all the great conversationalists, many of Doug’s stories had a great shelf life. He retold some of them so many times over the past 30 years, yet their punchlines never lost their sting.

One of Doug’s favourite jokes was about my putting routine. He would demonstrate just how long I stood over the golf ball before putting – each time he would laugh uproariously. Another favourite of his was the day Muchadeyi Masunda had a complete sense of humour failure when I accidentally walked over his putting line.

There was also the time when my caddy told me off for shanking my shot. What we didn’t know at the time was that my caddy had placed a bet on the game and had backed me to beat Doug. My caddy wasn’t just berating me for my weak shot but was actually upset because I had cost him money. Doug’s personality was so much larger than life that I cannot believe that we will never see or talk to him again. It is all so surreal.

More than a source of laughter, he was a pillar of support. When my mother died in July Doug flew down to Bulawayo to attend the funeral and mourn with us. He was one of the 30 people allowed to be at the graveside under the tight Covid protocols during the devastating third wave. He was that kind of friend who stood by his friends in good and bad times. He was generous and kind.

Our families had a tradition of Friday quality time that spilled over into the following day. Our last time together was for a dinner to celebrate Doug and Bindzile’s  30th wedding anniversary at Wombles in Harare. Time spent with Doug and Bindzile was intellectually stimulating and a nourishment to the soul.

He was consistent. The same values he lived by as a friend and a family man governed his business dealings. Doug was a hard worker, principled and professional – virtues that made him a positive role model to many young people.

In Doug they saw somebody whose significant wealth could be traced to the hard work he had put in, and the tangible businesses he had built from the ground up.

As Managing Director of First Merchant Bank he was instrumental in the bank financing my acquisition of 100% control of ZimInd Publishers when my partners Clive Murphy and Clive Wilson disinvested. He also supported my acquisition of the Mail & Guardian in South Africa. He took a lot of flak in Zanu PF circles for supporting me.

I am angry. I am hurting. Doug elected to answer the call to serve his country and temporarily abandon his comfortable life. He did not need the job as the first Chief Executive Officer of the newly constituted Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA). What a thank you to a patriotic citizen. After this how many will answer the call to serve when the message is that the price for principled leadership is life itself.

As l write this Doug’s funeral has been postponed to allow for further investigations into the circumstances surrounding his death. I hope that the investigation will be a thorough and impartial one, conducted by those committed to justice.

I am aware that Doug faced resistance from those opposed to an ethical management style. In my conversations with him, Doug said he wasn’t afraid of those who wanted a corrupt ZIDA. When I said if they failed to compromise him, they would come for him, he responded “then they don’t know me Mzukuru” and dismissed the matter.

Doug did not deserve to die the way he did. From what we’ve garnered so far it appears as if Doug died a most horrific death. The circumstances of Doug’s death are disturbingly similar to those of General Solomon Mujuru.

Difficult to understand like the death of Charles Kuwaza, former chair of the State Procurement board. Difficult to understand like the death of Edward Chindori-Chininga former Minister of Mines and Mining Development.

My prayer is that we get to know what actually happened to Doug early on the morning of Monday the 29th of November 2021, inside his penthouse in Harare. I am hoping that if Doug was murdered his death draws the line in the sand to this impunity. We must bring to an end the assassination and murder of citizens and the failure to investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of these barbaric crimes.

Bindzile and the boys have lost a loving husband and father. Many of us have lost a great friend while Zimbabwe has lost a patriot who was going to positively impact the future of this country through ZIDA. The circumstances of Doug’s death speak volumes about the society that we have become.

The greatest tribute to Doug’s inspirational life is a speedy investigation of how he died. If his death was a hit, as l believe strongly, the culprits must be brought to book. That is our debt to this patriotic and selfless Zimbabwean.

Doug loved God. He attributed his success from very humble beginnings to the Grace of God. In his wife Bindzile he had a praying warrior. They raised their three amazing boys in the presence of God. His love for his wife and family was an inspiration. His legacy will be felt for a long time across not only Zimbabwe but also in South Africa, Botswana and indeed the whole continent.

You have done your bit Doug. Go well till we meet again. Zimbabwe Independent

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