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Chemist Siziba dies

by Staff reporter
10 Mar 2024 at 07:05hrs | Views
Zimbabwean local businessman Chemist Siziba who was one of the pioneers in the mobile telecommunications industry has died.

He was 77.

Siziba died of kidney failure at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare this afternoon.

Siziba, who was the founder of the liquidated Cosmos Cellular (Pvt) Ltd and later chairman of Broadlands Network, was born in Filabusi, Matabeleland South, on 30 June 1947.

He grew up in Filabusi and got educated in mission schools in the region.

He then went to Bulawayo and later Harare for education at the University of Rhodesia.

After that, he left the country to further his electrical engineering studies at the University of Mumbai, a public state university in Mumbai,  formerly known as the University of Bombay.

From India, Siziba went to the United Kingdom where he worked for years and acquired several post-graduate qualifications related to engineering.

In the later 1970s, he left the UK for Lusaka, Zambia, to join the liberation struggle as a Zapu cadre, working under the National Security Organisation led by the late Russian-trained Zipra intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabangwa.

Siziba remained close to Dabengwa throughout his life until he died on 23 May 2019.

Siziba was one of the mourners at Dabengwa's moving funeral at Manxeleni in Ntabazinduna, about 40km outside Bualwayo.

After the historic Lancaster House ceasefire and transitional talks in London at the end of liberation war, Siziba returned home with the Zapu delegation.

He then joined government in 1980 working under the Minister of Roads, Road Traffic, Post and Telecommunications George Silundika, a senior Zapu nationalist leader, who died on 9 April 1981.

Siziba worked for government for eight years.

He then ventured into business and black empowerment issues, becoming Indigenous Business Development Centre leader when it was founded in 1991.

Siziba then started a bicycles manufacturing business and operated in the food industry manufacturing cornflakes.

In 1996, Siziba founded Cosmos Cellular.

When PTC launched its cellular telephone service, Net*One, Cosmos and two other companies being service providers.

That made Siziba cash-rich for sometime and he enjoyed it as it lasted.

For sometime he sponsored football, especially the Cosmos Cellular Football Challenge Cup between Dynamos and Highlanders, and beauty pageants which were handled by his communication director the late Fortune Ncube.

In recent years, he had a big dream campaigning for a mega water project to supply water to Harare and other surrounding areas from Tete Province in Mozambique.

He said the Koreans were interested in funding the project.

After losing his Cosmos Cellular business years down the line, Siziba hit difficult times and struggled on the slippery slopes of life, including fighting in the courts for his huge vast tract of land - 300 hectares - around the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport he brought from fellow businessman Craig John William Danckwerts.

A fierce protracted dispute later erupted over the deal. He died bitter over the issue.

Siziba became a pale shadow of his usually confident, vocal and bombastic self.

At his favourite drinking hole, Oasis Hotel in Harare, which most drinkers mainly from Matabeleland, then called Emthonjeni (a well or source of water in Ndebele), drinking or the weekend would not have  started until his arrival.

His usual humorous and joking favourite line upon arirval at the bar was always: "Vachaita sei? MuZezuru give me some beer and order one for yourself!".

Or "Savage, give me some beer, a Pilsner, and order for all these savages, including those I don't even know!"

Always people from different backgrounds would respond with a roar of laughter.

In his social circles, Siziba liked debating. It would be an usual day if Siziba is in a bar and there is no fierce over thing or other.

From business, politics and international affairs, he was always locked in debates.

One of his favourite debating subject matters was politics, governance and leadership.

Siziba always argued that the country would be better off if it was led by a engineer, not "these lawyers, teachers or political scientists", as he would say.

"I'm the only man who defies Shona logic - kuti kudzidza hakuperi; mina ngifunde ngaqeda; I finished education!"

Siziba's view would broadly be: If we are really serious about fixing this country, you need a leader who has an engineering background to lead for 10 years.

You see, there is one unique quality which defines an engineer, it is the ability to solve problems – including those that may at first seem insoluble.

Engineers are trained, Siziba would say, to figure out how to make things better or solve mysteries, whether is a product, a new technology or a process.

We are taught how to approach challenges and use critical-thinking skills to find possible solutions, he would say.

Knowing how to do this is critical in all endeavours of life, particularly when you are in a leadership position, Siziba would always argue.

RIP Chemist Chothozwa Siziba "Hwanqa". Hamba kahle Bra Chem.

Source - newshawks