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Josiah Thomas Mberikwazvo Tungamirai
File:Josiah Tungamirai.jpg
Nickname Muzamani
Born (1948-10-08)October 8, 1948
Died August 25, 2005(2005-08-25) (aged 56)
Place of birth Gutu, Southern Rhodesia
Place of death South Africa
Allegiance Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
Service/branch Air Force of Zimbabwe
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held Air Force of Zimbabwe
Other work Zimbabwean Government Minister

Air Chief Marshal Josiah Tungamirai (8 October 1948[1] – 25 August 2005), born Thomas Mberikwazvo,[2] was a Zimbabwean military officer and politician. He was commander of the Air Force and later served as Minister of State for Indigenization and Empowerment in President Robert Mugabe's government before his death in 2005.

Early years and education

Tungamirai was born into a peasant family as Thomas Mberikwazvo on 8 October 1948 in Gutu, Masvingo Province in what was then Southern Rhodesia. He received his primary education at the Mutero Mission in Gutu from 1957 to 1964. His secondary education was completed at the Chikwingwizha Seminary. Tungamirai went up to Salisbury Polytechnic and he completed his studies in Physics and Mathematics in 1970.[3]

Military career

Tungamirai served in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army during its war to overthrow white rule in former Rhodesia. He was a loyalist during the Nhari and Vashandi rebellions against ZANLA command, and was among those ZANLA officers who escaped Zambia, following the Zambian government's round-up of senior ZANU officials after the assassination of Herbert Chitepo. Towards the end of the war, he served as ZANLA Political Commissar.[4]

When Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, Tungamirai became a major general in the newly formed Zimbabwe National Army and was appointed to the Zimbabwe Joint High Command. He was involved in the work to integrate the formerly belligerent Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army and Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army as well as the Rhodesian Army.

In 1982 Tungamirai was transferred to the Air Force of Zimbabwe to fill the post of Chief of Staff. At that time he was redesignated an air vice-marshal. Tungamirai qualified as a pilot in October 1984.[3]

Tungamirai went on to reach the rank of air chief marshal and serve as the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe.[5]

In 1992 Tungamirai was replaced by Perence Shiri as Air Force commander.[5]

Political career

In early 2004, Tungamirai was elected to parliament from Gutu North in a by-election. He was soon afterwards appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of State for Indigenisation and Empowerment on 9 February 2004.[6]


Following what anonymous members of Tungamirai's family said were problems with rejection of a kidney transplant carried out several years previously,[7] Tungamirai was flown to a South African hospital for emergency treatment. He died there on 25 August 2005.[8] After Josiah Tungamirai's death, his widow Pamela Tungamirai claimed that he had been poisoned.[8]


  1. Executive Order: Blocking Property Of Persons Undermining Democratic Processes Or Institutions In Zimbabwe, The White House. Retrieved on 1 April 2007.
  2. MDC MPs break boycott for Tungamirai burial, Retrieved on 1 April 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zim robbed of great strategist, Mathaba News Network. Retrieved on 1 April 2007.
  4. Martin, D and Johnson, P. 1981. The Struggle for Zimbabwe. Faber & Faber.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Ministry of Defence. Retrieved on 1 April 2007.
  6. "Mugabe rewards loyalists in new Cabinet", New Zimbabwe (, 9 February 2004.
  7. Tungamirai dies in South Africa, New Zimbabwe. Retrieved on 1 April 2007.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tungamirai was poisoned, wife claims, New Zimbabwe. Retrieved on 1 April 2007.
Military offices
Preceded by
A Daudpota
Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe
Succeeded by
P Shiri
Political offices
Preceded by
New ministry
Minister of State for Indigenisation and Empowerment
Succeeded by
S C Mumbengegwi

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