Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE late former Bulawayo Town Clerk Dr Michael Mkanyiso Ndubiwa has been described by those who worked with him as a sharp-witted person, a man of great personality and a fundi in local governance who was instrumental in the city’s growth soon after independence.
According to his son, Horace, Dr Ndubiwa (86) died on Tuesday at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo where he had gone for his routine dialysis session.
Dr Ndubiwa was Bulawayo’s first black town clerk who worked for council for 32 years, 15 of them as a top municipal official.
Retired diplomat and academic Dr Aaron Maboyi, who worked with Dr Ndubiwa as his deputy between 1984-1988 said he was a sharp-minded person who was an expert in the management of urban councils.
“He was the first black town clerk for Bulawayo immediately after Independence. He was a very brilliant person and extremely knowledgeable in the laws affecting local government having done studies relating to management of local authorities in South Africa,” he said.
Dr Maboyi said using his wealth of experience, Dr Ndubiwa played a significant role when the administration of Bulawayo City Council switched hands soon after Independence.
“He was responsible for the changeover from a white-dominated council to a black-dominated one immediately after independence.
Through his tutelage as his deputy, I was able to learn the dictates and procedures related to the management of a town council as opposed to rural district councils,” he said.
Dr Maboyi described Dr Ndubiwa as a strict and religious person who wanted things done according to book.
“He was very strict and wanted things to be followed to the letter. He was also a fairly religious person although I didn’t know his church, but he was fond of quoting situations in the Bible. He is actually the person who influenced me to do a diploma for town clerks in South Africa,” he said.
Dr Maboyi said his late former boss was instrumental in the establishment of suburbs such as Mahatshula, Luveve 5, Nkulumane and parts of Entumbane.
Zanu-PF Politburo member and former Bulawayo mayor Cde Joshua Malinga said Dr Ndubiwa was an astute administrator whose work as town clerk was spotlessly clean.
“He was a hard worker, very efficient and a man of his word. He was pleasure to work with and will be missed by the Bulawayo community at large,” he said.
Cde Malinga said Dr Ndubiwa worked with several mayors.
Former Ward One councillor, Mr Mohammed Esat said Dr Ndubiwa was a man of great personality who diligently served the city during his tenure.
“Mike Ndubiwa was a man of great personality who will be missed by the people of Bulawayo for serving the city with diligence. During his time as town clerk, he set a good example as far as managing the city is concerned,” he said.
Mr Esat said during Dr Ndubiwa’s tenure as town clerk, Bulawayo was rated the cleanest city in Africa.
“He was capable of running the city and when he took over during the period of transformation from white rule to black majority rule, he played a critical role in the economic growth of Bulawayo. When he was town clerk, the city developed and it was rated the cleanest city in Africa,” he said.
“He was also quite familiar with all departments in the council. He was someone who was devoted to serving the community of Bulawayo. In fact, he was a hard worker who would work late into the night or even during weekends.”
Mr Esat said Dr Ndubiwa played a significant role in terms of addressing Bulawayo’s water challenges through the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust.
“He was a humanitarian who cared a lot about his community and continued to participate in the economic growth of Bulawayo even after his retirement,” he said.
Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said: “He was the pioneer of black administration for Bulawayo in independent Zimbabwe. He was such an inspiration and it’s also great achievement for me to have been one of his successors.”
Mr Dube said Dr Ndubiwa contributed immensely to Bulawayo’s economic growth.
In his condolence message, Bulawayo mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni said the death of Dr Ndubiwa came as a great shock to him.
“On behalf of the City of Bulawayo, Aldermen and councillors, Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, heads of council departments, staff and residents, we mourn former town clerk Dr Michael Mkanyiso Ndubiwa. I have learnt with sadness of his passing on. Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife, children, grandchildren and the entire Ndubiwa family and Bulawayo community at large,” he said.
In a statement, National University of Science and Technology (Nust) council chairman Engineer Alvord Mabena said Dr Ndubiwa was a visionary leader who contributed immensely to the governance and development of the university
“We will forever be grateful to his quality leadership, dedication and commitment during the 25 years of service at Nust. As chairman of Nust Council and speaking on behalf of Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mqhele Dlodlo, Nust Council, management, staff, students and alumni, I wish to express heartfelt condolences to the Ndubiwa family on the untimely passing on of Dr Michael Ndubiwa, the former Chairman of Nust Council,” he said.
Upon his retirement in August 1999, most councillors, even the most critical of his management style, were unanimous that Dr Ndubiwa (86) had served the city well.
The late former Bulawayo deputy mayor and outspoken politician Alderman Charles Mpofu who was also one of Dr Ndubiwa’s fiercest critics, described him as “the best town clerk in the country” upon his retirement.
Dr Ndubiwa was also credited for the city’s survival through shrewd management particularly during the trying times before the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu- PF and PF-Zapu when the local authority was then the only one being run by an opposition party.
Born in 1934 in Inyathi, Bubi district in Matabeleland North, Dr Ndubiwa did his primary education in Lower Gweru and came to Mzilikazi High School in Bulawayo for his secondary education between 1945-1952.
Between 1953-1957, he attended school at Tegwani Training Institute in Plumtree. He proceeded to do a BA degree in administration at the then University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland which was based in Maseru, graduating in 1967.
In 1972, Dr Ndubiwa attained a Master of Arts in Local Government and Administration from the University of Birmingham (UK). He also held a PhD in social sciences.
Before joining Bulawayo City Council, Dr Ndubiwa worked as an assistant teacher under the African Education Department between January 1958 and December 1958.
From 1959-1961, he worked for the Barclays Bank and later joined the Civil Service between 1961-1962.
Dr Ndubiwa joined Bulawayo City Council (BCC) in 1963 as an administrative assistant (finance) in the City’s Housing and Amenities department.
He left council in 1964 and returned to the Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland university to study for a Bachelor of Arts in Administration Degree which he completed in 1967. During his vacations he worked as a temporary administrative assistant before re-joining the council on January 22, 1968 as an administrative assistant in the council’s Housing and Amenities department.
Between 1975 and 1978, Dr Ndubiwa became the senior administrative officer in the Department of Housing and Community Services.
He rose through the ranks to Deputy Town Clerk in 1979 and subsequently tookover as the city’s first black Town Clerk in September 1984, taking over from Mr Ian Edmeades. He was the first black person to qualify for a diploma in the Institute of Town Clerks of Southern Africa.
Dr Ndubiwa retired on August 31, 1999.
The late Dr Ndubiwa sat on a number of boards, among them the Censorship Appeal Board (1980-82), Associate Members of the Zimbabwe Institute of Management (1980), Mass Media Trust (1981) executive board of the All-Africa Games (1994), Air Zimbabwe Board (1995), Local Government Board (1996), Ingwebu Breweries, Technical College Advisory Council (1987 -1990), Delimitation Committee (1990) and the National Aids Council (Nac) national chairman
Dr Ndubiwa was in the Nust Foundation Committee from August 1990 and became a council member from July 1, 1991 to April 7, 2002.
He was appointed chairman of Nust Council from February 2000 to September 2016.
Funeral arrangements are in progress and mourners are gathered at Number 25 Glenwood, Woodlands surburb in Bulawayo. — @mashnets.