- Last Updated on 16 April 2013
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Farai Barnabas Mangodza, Founding director and former Chief Executive Officer of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), who succumbed to a long illness on Saturday the 13th of April, was laid to rest yesterday, Monday the 15th of April 2013 at warren Hills Cemetery in Harare. He was 42.
Members of the Civil Society, who attended the burial in large numbers, to give him fitting send off, expressed a profound sense of loss at the passing on of 'Brab'- Mangodza's affectionate nickname, whom they saw as an able leader, administrator and activist. Most of them, speaking on the sidelines of his burial, acknowledged that Barnabas had dedicated the bulk of his life to social justice and the democratisation of the country.
During his time at CHRA, Mangodza served on the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Executive from 2004-5 Deputising Mr. Brian Kagoro, and spearheading the Administrative and functional set up of the Coalitions Regional Advocacy program and office in Johannesburg South Africa. Amongst other responsibilities, He also sat on the Board of Transparency International - Zimbabwe (TI-Z).
CHRA Director Mfundo Mlilo, who took over from Mangodza at CHRA said: "as Founding Director, Barnabas strived for the organization to grow and was a pivotal member of the organization until he left. His contribution helped a lot to transform CHRA from a northern suburbs-based organization to a mass based movement. €
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Director for Africa and former Crisis Chairperson Anorld Tsunga highlighted his sense of loss.
"Brab is a big loss to the civil society and Zimbabwe and the international social justice movement. He was a big giant, both in stature, as well as in action and involvement on matters of civic participation in local and national governance. He leaves a gapping hole, is irreplaceable and based on his love for God and his worldly contributions to mankind, deserves to rest in peace. €
Media and Communications Expert, Rashweat Mukundu, who succeeded Mangodza as Vice-Chairperson of Crisis, in 2005, was filled with nostalgia, and reminisced on the late Brab's helpful manner after leaving the Crisis Board.
"We had a cordial relationship and spent time together discussing how to build the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. He never ran away from responsibilities even after leaving the Board. He was someone we could rely on for ideas, and ongoing support € said Mukundu. "To a very large extent, Crisis and CHRA Reached their full strength under his leadership. It's sad that we had to lose him the way we did. € Mukundu added.
Transparency International - Zimbabwe (TI-Z) Director Mary-Jane Ncube was also full of praise for the role Mangodza played as a two-term Board member of the anti-corruption watchdog.
"As TIZ, Barnabas is the second former chair we have lost this year, after Professor Makumbe. We are filled with a sense of profound loss, but are grateful for the time he served our institution, where in all the time here, he demonstrated his ability to work with communities, especially in mobilizing people to fight against corruption. The support he rendered as Chairperson of the Board was instrumental in establishing accountability committees in the communities which have now reached over 85 € said Ncube.
Ncube added that she had also worked with Mangodza when he left the TI-Z as Chief Executive of CHRA, in seeking for accountability in local governance and in programs which included the training of city Mayors on better service delivery.
Mike Davis, who was chairperson of the CHRA during Mangodza's time there, said it was difficult to summarize ten years of struggle in a few words, narrating their journeys in Zimbabwe and in Munich - German ( Harare's twin city) where at one point they met with the mayor of Munich to discuss issues related to service delivery enhancement.
"Barnabas was instrumental in the work of CHRA and was important in building CHRA into a formidable organisation that built confidence in the Harare's residents.
"Whilst we did not always agree, our disagreement was done in the spirit of solidarity. He was a good guy. He conducted himself professionally and believed in his causes and in 2004 he was abducted and tortured over two nights at Warren Park police station.
"That was as a result of his efforts to build dialogue even among different political parties which showed he was prepared to suffer for the principles of the struggle of the residents, € he said.
Daniel Maphosa, the Director of Savannah Trust, who grew up in the same neighborhood in Harare's Glen Norah suburb with Mangodza and interacted with him during the late activist's involvement with the Student Christian Movement (SCMZ) shed a different perspective on Mangodza.
"He briefly trained to be a Roman Catholic priest though he did not persist in that. He was good at linking the issue of Christianity to democracy and human rights. He shaped my thinking on these issues, € said Maphosa.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director, McDonald Lewanika added "Brab's contributions in life speak for themselves. At this time it is easy to see the outpouring from his local friends, family and comrades. But Brab was an international giant, and condolence messages have poured in from his family, friends and comrades from the continent, the city of Munich, and residents in London, who were blessed with his service and company while doing a Commonwealth fellowship program there as part of London Citizens - a residents movement akin to CHRA there. €
A wife and 4 Children survive Farai Barnabas Mangodza.