By Never Kadungure (political editor)
Veteran politician and MDC senator for Chirumhanzu-Gweru Patrick Kombayi has died at his Gweru home on Sunday.
The burly businessman survived an assassination attempt in 1990 when the late Vice President Simon Muzenda tried to stop him campaigning against him.
Kombayi was at the time the National Organising Secretary of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) led by Edgar Tekere. One of those convicted of shooting Kombayi, then Gweru CIO chief Elias Kanengoni was later pardoned by President Mugabe.
Kombayi was shot and seriously wounded on March 24, 1990 just three days before the general elections where he was contesting the Gweru urban seat against vice-President Muzenda. There were conflicting stories about the shooting with ZANU-PF and even President Mugabe accusing Kombayi of provoking the violence.
“Police reports said that Cde Kombayi followed Cde Muzenda’s truck and shot the front tyres then threw inflammable materials into the car setting it ablaze” President Mugabe claimed.
ZUM youths and Kombayi’s employees said the violence was sparked by ZANU-PF youths who drove to Kombayi’s shop in Ridgemont. They set fire to the shop, fired some shots and allegedly burnt Muzenda’s truck with the intention of making it look as if it had been done by ZUM youths.
Kombayi, they said, only came to the shop after it had been set ablaze and although police had been summoned several times earlier they arrived at the same time with Kombayi.
At the hospital, Kombayi was kept under police guard and the press was barred from talking to him. From Gweru he was transferred to Bulawayo Central hospital where he stayed for some weeks before going to the United Kingdom to receive specialist treatment that cost him about 325 000 pounds.
In March 2006 Kombayi won a US$20 million defamation suit against then rural housing Minister Emerson Mnangagwa for making false claims about his role in the liberation struggle in a book ‘Simon Vengai Muzenda’.
On Sunday an MDC alert announcing Kombayi’s death blamed ‘his long battle with gun wounds’ for the death.
Award winning Zimbabwen writer Chenjerai Hove told Nehanda Radio that Kombayi was, ”a gallant son of the nation. He provided for Zanu PF in Zambia, and when he returned, they would not dare keep him or pay the debts they owed.’
‘My condelences to his lovely family whom i knew for many years when i worked for Mambo Press, Gweru. His generoisty and humour is known to all residents of Gweru and Chirumanzu, his home area.’
‘As one of the first black train drivers, he had so many jokes about train driving, even in his political speeches. I will miss him. My trips to Gweru will never be the same again,’ Hove added.