Just around 8pm on top of the zbc news hour, i received disturbing news from Yvonne Musarurwa, our MDC-T National Secretary for Youth, informing me of the sudden death of mukoma Cephas Makuyana, commonly know as chigrader because of his pathfinding work at the formation of the MDC in 1999. At the time of his death, he had just been appointed to the MDC-T National Executive as Secretary for Traditional Affairs and Culture. Previously he was member of the Guardian Council in the ill-fated MDC ALLIANCE and a former Senator.
I first met Cephas Makuyana in the 1990s when he was active in the Soft Drinks Manufacturing Workers Union employed by United Bottlers along Seke rd. He rose from being a stopsteward and Workers Committee Chairperson at United Bottlers, Harare to becoming the President of the Soft Drinks Manufacturers Workers union which organized all workers in the industry that included manufacturing giants such as Mutare Bottling Company, Scheppes and cool drinks firms. Makuyana was a seasoned trade unionist who negotiated good employment conditions for suffering workers. He was a militant trade unionist who led strikes to push for workers demands. In 1998, I worked closely with Makuyana to establish the National Employment Council for the Soft Drinks Manufacturing
Industry. I was their consultant. I used to see fireworks during wage negotiations in the boardroom of United Bottlers. Makuyana was a fearless negotiator. The ZCTU quickly noticed his leadership prowess and appointed him Chairman of the ZCTU Northen Region that covered Harare,Chinhoyi , Bindura and other towns.
As Regional Chairman he became instrumental in the morphing of Zctu structures into mdc founding structures in 1998/99. Makuyana became an organizer and mobilizer of workers. He rallied the working class to support the formation of the MDC. Through his hard work, we managed to set up MDC structures in Harare, Norton, Chitungwiza, Epworth, Ruwa, Domboshawa. We set up interim district party structures before the launch of MDC on 11 September 1999 in Rufaro Stadium. Among the people who worked with Cephas Makuyana to set up MDC structures in the Greater Harare area, include: The late Jambani, the late Tichaona Munyanyi, the late Vilika, the late sekuru Mutamba of Mbare, Mbuya Mazani, Muguti, Mai Dandajena, Morgan Femai, Last Maengehana ( who is jailed in Chikurubi on trumped up charges), Jairos Karimatsenga and Yours Truly. Our meeting point was called checkpoint to disguise the enemy and we called the place pamabhiza (mashonaland turf club) then situated along Rezende Street.
Makuyana was a key figure at the ZCTU and formation of the MDC in 1999. He organized all townhall meetings addressed by Tsvangirai in Harare. He was part of all strategic planning meetings. He attended the National Working Peoples Convention in February 1998.
At the launch of the MDC at Rufaro Stadium in 1998, Makuyana was the Master of Ceremony, a risky but befitting role as the godfather of the birth of the labour backed Movement For Democratic Change.
Makuyana remained loyal to the founding values and principles of MDC, till his death on the evening of the 9th January 2021.
Go well Cde Makuyana. You fought a good fight. Rest in peace chi-Grader.
My sincere condolences to the Makuyana family in Chimanimani and Chitungwiza. Above, my sincere Condolences to the MDC-T family. MHDSRIP.