THE mysterious death of former Cabinet minister and suspended Zanu PF Harare provincial chairman Amos Midzi, who was 62, at his Munandi Farm in Beatrice on Tuesday raised tempers yesterday as rival Zanu PF factions clashed over control of the proceedings at his funeral wake.
Ousted Vice-President Joice Mujuru visited the Midzi residence in Mt Pleasant, Harare, to pay her last respects to his family yesterday afternoon.
This came amid speculative reports that opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was last night also expected to visit the Midzi family home in Mt Pleasant to pay his condolences.
A tense atmosphere gripped the gathering after fired and suspended Zanu PF officials — now known as People First — started dictating terms and playing a leading role in the proceedings.
Mbare MP Tendai Savanhu led the group linked to People First reportedly fronted by Mujuru, in controlling the funeral proceedings with Midzi’s family.
Zanu PF Harare political commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe accused the People First grouping of trying to hijack Midzi’s funeral and “wrongfully claiming him as if he was theirs”.
“Midzi was not People First, he was Zanu PF and I know that because I worked with him. He was not recalled from Parliament and there was no intention to do so, meaning the party leadership knew what he stood for,” Mashayamombe said.
“They should not claim him. He was Zanu PF and we are going to bury him as Zanu PF.”
Some of the perceived People First officials at the funeral included former Higher Education minister Olivia Muchena.
Others linked to the Mujuru camp present besides Savanhu were suspended youth administration secretary Varaidzo Mupunga, suspended Mashonaland East youth chairman Lucky Kandemiri, Midzi’s former deputy Christopher Chigumba and former central committee member Noah Mangondo.
Only Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and suspended Harare provincial chairman Godwills Masimirembwa were seen at Midzi’s Harare home to pay their condolences on Tuesday night.
But Midzi’s family yesterday said their relative, who died of suspected poisoning, would be buried at Glen Forest Cemetery outside Harare.
“As a family, we don’t know how that process (hero status) is done, but we have planned the burial. He will be buried at Glen Forest Cemetery on Saturday. As a family, we have the capacity to give him a decent burial,” Midzi’s younger brother Stanley said.
“To us as a family, he is our hero and a hero too to those whom he worked with. If (Zanu PF) share the same opinion with us, it’s fine, but if they don’t, we have no problem with it.”
Family members interviewed by NewsDay said although they were not ruling out foul play, the former ambassador to the United States lived a troubled life both politically and financially.
They said Midzi had a loan with a local financial institution which he had been battling to service with one of his properties on the verge of being attached by creditors.
“As you know for long, Cde Midzi was more than a political godfather of Harare, he was a revered person. He used to control most land deals and housing co-operatives in the process pocketing good money, but after being kicked out of the party, that became impossible,” a family member, who requested not to be named, said.
Midzi was found dead in his car on Tuesday morning and there has been a lot of speculation concerning circumstances surrounding his death.
“This man used to operate housing co-operatives in his constituency and had many land deals which gave him cash. But as you might be aware, when you are out of Zanu PF, you can easily be arrested for any silly mistake, hence after his suspension, he was living a terrified life,” the source said.
“More so, the recent arrest of Godwin Gomwe (Harare provincial youth chair charged with extortion) had affected Cde Midzi because they previously worked together before Gomwe betrayed them. So the fear was that he would spill the beans and cause his arrest as well.”
Another family member said the chronology of events on the fateful night showed that Midzi was a troubled man.
“He left Harare in the evening for the farm and went to see the farm manager around midnight. Why? He then left the farm before dawn and headed in a direction that has no road so that he could take his life. It’s very tough to comprehend it as a family,” the source said.
But opposition parties urged the police to do thorough investigations and refrain from making insinuations that the former Cabinet minister could have committed suicide.
“We are worried by the statements coming from the police which seem to conclude that it’s suicide. What if he was forced to drink the poison? We urge the police to properly investigate,” National Constitutional Assembly spokesperson Madock Chivasa said.
MDC Renewal Team spokesperson Jacob Mafume also highlighted the need for police to be more “transparent, accountable and professional” when dealing with such matters.
“We are disheartened by the fact that the scene had more people milling around like a market place. Police must understand that they should do their job in a professional manner to avoid a lot of conspiracy theories,” Mafume said.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “We trust that God will comfort them (Midzi family) in this trying period. We may have our own political differences, but at the end of the day, we are all Zimbabweans; bound by a common destiny.”
Former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who was also kicked out of the party on allegations of conniving with Mujuru to oust Mugabe, said former party members would “wait for a police report and study it before commenting. However, sometimes it is not good to speculate on some of these things”.
Midzi is survived by his wife Alice and three children.