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Luke Tamborinyoka: Alex Magaisa — Farewell to a thought champion

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor and raised in glory; it is sown in weakness and raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised as a spiritual body.”

(1 Corinthians 15 verses 42-44)

Alex Tawanda Magaisa is no more. He died Sunday morning and Zimbabweans received the news of his death with great shock. He had enamoured himself to the average Zimbabwean through his weekly incisive treatise that he dubbed the Big Saturday Read (BSR).

But yesterday, as the social media universe went into a torrid frenzy following his untimely death, Magaisa’s unfortunate demise became the Big Sunday Death (BSD).

I knew Alex Magaisa well. During the era of the inclusive government between 2012 and 2013, I worked with him at The Prime Minister’s Office at Charter House at the corner of Julius Nyerere Way and Samora Machel Avenue. Alex was the Prime Minister’s political advisor while I was the PM’s spokesperson.

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His office was number 205 and mine was 206.  Both of us were part of a contingent of Dr Tsvangirai’s staffers that had not been attested into the civil service but still humbly served the same government that had refused to formally employ us. 

Alex was a sober character who spoke with a softness that belied his huge knowledge and competence. He had depth. And width too. In the daily briefings with the Prime Minister, you would always expect Magaisa to alert the boss and the office of the possible future political dangers of seemingly innocuous political developments.

Such was his foresight. And maybe that’s why he wore glasses!

Dr Tsvangirai’s analysis of Alex Magaisa’s contribution to the PM’s Office are contained in my forthcoming book, Service and Sacrifice.

In the sculpting of the country’s current Constitution, Alex had ably assisted our COPAC team led by Douglas Mwonzora, who has now become notorious for assisting Zanu PF in tearing asunder the same Constitution he led in its making.

In the forthcoming book, now with the publishers, Dr Tsvangirai makes the point that Magaisa played his part in the making of Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution and that even though he (Dr Tsvangirai) had not known him before, the UK-based law lecturer competently served the PM’s Office.

While others thought it was a weakness that Dr Tsvangirai would appoint as political advisor someone who had not been in the MDC before, the former Prime Minister says the merit lay in that he was not tainted by the baggage of internal party politics.

Alex, or Musairwa, his totem which I used to address him, was a man of a great, alert mind. He was a thought champion who would unpack the country’s political developments in a simple way.

Sometime in May 2013, when his personal driver and uncle Edmore Munyoro, whom he affectionately called ‘Bra Eddie” died in a car accident, Alex was seriously affected by that death. Bra Eddie died while driving Alex’s car from Murehwa.

They had grown up together in Wedza with Bra Eddie. They were so close and Eddie’s death greatly affected him.

After the death of Dr Tsvangirai, we both felt we had lost a mentor. A friend. An irreplaceable boss. We spent almost a week exchanging online our unforgettable experiences and interactions with Dr Tsvangirai. The moments of laughter we had shared with Zimbabwe’s icon who died on Valentine Day in 2018.

Today we have lost yet another Musairwa. Alex too was a citizens’ hero. A patriot. A change champion.  A thought champion.

His incisive column was always a must-read. It showcased the soft power of thought, ink and the pen. In his own unique way, Alex “luke-d” the beast in the eye and used his literary prowess to challenge the status quo. 

Go well Musairwa. Zimbabweans will miss your incisive analysis of the political developments in this great country that we all love. Go well, thought champion.

The citizens will always savour your written material which remains immortalized in cyberspace for the benefit of future generations.

Go well, Alex. The citizens will always remember you as a patriot who was struck down in mid-stride. At 46, you died well in your prime.

As you lie in the soft requiem of death, let me make this promise to you, Musairwa. We, the citizens, will ensure that through the next election, we deliver the new Great Zimbabwe that you so much aspired for.

May you great soul and incisive pen rest in eternal power.

Luke Tamborinyoka is a change champion and a citizen from Domboshava.