Last Sunday, the nation was plunged into mourning following the death of Cde Simon Khaya Moyo affectionately known to many as SK.
Cde Moyo succumbed to cancer at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo at the age of 76. He was unanimously declared National Hero and is set to be laid to rest this coming Monday at the National Shrine. In his condolence message, President Mnangagwa described the late SK as a distinguished true patriot, freedom fighter and a resourceful, versatile cadre who embraced the risks of the liberation struggle with selfless courage.
Cde SK was born in 1945 to Mr Robert Khaya Ngulani Moyo and Mrs Tshagara Moyo. Mrs Moyo passed away in a road traffic accident along the Bruna Perg – Plumtree Road, in June 2002 at the age of 78. His father Robert Khaya Ngulani Moyo succumbed to diabetes in 2006 at the age of 88. Cde Moyo attended Fletcher High School in Gweru.
The affable Cde SK would be remembered as a father, politician, rural transformation advocate, unifier, conservationist and a communicator par excellence.
Cde SK’s political journey began in 1968 when his love for the nation, saw him leave the country for Zambia to join the Liberation Struggle. While in Zambia the senior ZAPU leadership got him enrolled at the University of Zambia where he graduated with a Diploma in Social Sciences in 1969. ZAPU then directed that he proceeds to Makerere University in Uganda where in 1973 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science. In 1975, SK returned to Lusaka where he was appointed special assistant to the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo. Cde Moyo later underwent military and intelligence training in the then Germany Democratic Republic and had refresher courses in Cuba and the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics now Russia.
As Special Assistant to Cde Nkomo, Cde Moyo travelled widely with Dr Nkomo, attending several meetings such as the Geneva, Malta and Lancaster House Conference. After the 1980 independence, the young SK joined the Civil Service where he served in various capacities such as an Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs (1980), Under Secretary in the Ministry of Justice (1983), Under Secretary in the Ministry of Health (1984), and was later promoted to Deputy Permanent Secretary in 1987. Cde Moyo left government services in 1989 to become the first Head of Corporate Affairs of the Development Trust of Zimbabwe – a trust founded by Father Zimbabwe.
Cde Moyo’s life outside government was short-lived as he was elected Member of Parliament for Bulilimamangwe South in the 1990 general elections and subsequently appointed Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce in 1992. In December 1994, Cde SK was appointed ZANU PF Deputy Secretary for Administration a position he held up to 2000. He was re-elected MP for Bulilimamangwe South in 1995 and was subsequently appointed Minister of Transport and Energy until 1997, when he was re-appointed as Mines and Environment Minister. Because of his discipline and the culture of hard work, Cde Moyo was appointed Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, the Kingdom of Lesotho and Mauritius until 2005. He later served at one time as the Party’s National Chairperson, and Macro-Economic Planning and Information Minister. Cde SK was the ZANU PF National Spokesperson at the time of his death.
Cde Moyo was also a man who preached peace and advocated for smart politics that knows no colour, region or tribe. He was against regional politics. In 1999, he was quoted saying, “We should stop regionalizing politics. Nothing should stop me from leaving Plumtree and stand elections in Shamva or any other part of the country. We are a united country and one should be seen representing the country not an area or a region.” Cde Moyo once said that without unity there will be no peace and without peace there will be no development and without development there is no prosperity.
During his tenure as Minister of Mines and Environment, Cde SK Moyo would be remembered for pushing for the review of the Mines and Minerals Act as a way of ensuring that rural communities benefited from resources in their areas. He also pushed for Mutoko Black Granite Quarry miners to adopt a strong Corporate Social Responsibility initiative aimed at empowering the local community as well as protect sacred sites from their mining activities.
Cde Moyo advocated the rural communities to benefit from the mineral resources in their respective areas. In 1998, he was quoted saying that, “Villagers must benefit from mining activities. We cannot have companies just coming in to dig and leave behind undeveloped areas without any benefits from their mineral resources. My ministry wants to see the people of that area (Mutoko) benefiting from the extraction of their minerals.”
Cde Moyo was also a believer in sustainable utilization of natural resources – both fauna and flora. He believed in the proper management of natural resources for the benefit of the entire human community without compromising the needs of future generations.
“Some protectionist groups are doing all in their power to ensure that there is no resumption and marketing of wildlife products, even highly regulated marketing. We have therefore no apology and we will continue to live as a sovereign state capable of managing our affairs and we will continue to be responsible and be able to implement the CITES resolutions,” Cde Moyo was once quoted saying.
The late national hero was also a strong believer of a free and impartial media. Cde SK did not hide his distaste for the media imperialism that emerged following the implementation of the historic land reform programme. He spoke against the attacks on the country’s tourism sector and while on duty in South Africa as Ambassador, Cde SK was influential in the formation of a media committee made up of African diplomats based in that country whose role was to tell the pan-African story undiluted. He was against media bias and at one time he was quoted saying that, “When we get subjected to disinformation, misinformation and calculated negativity by those we have entrusted to promote the country’s image, then we begin to wonder as to what has happened to that noble profession. We cannot afford to lose our conscience or our souls in order to please other people.”
As his remains will be interred at the National Heroes Acre on Monday, the nation will remember Cde Moyo as a son of the soil who dedicated much of his time to serving the nation. He will be remembered as an exemplary figure who preached unity and tolerance. To Cde Moyo, we continue to say that you have fought the good fight, you finished the race and you have kept the faith. It’s now time for you to receive your crown.
Go well son of the soil
Famba zvakanaka mwana wevhu.