George Tawengwa

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George Tawengwa (6 March 1915 – 13 April 1982) was the first black millionaire (in US dollars) in Zimbabwe,[citation needed] a prominent businessman who was engaged in transport, retail, hotel and agriculture industries. He was the owner of the Mushandirapamwe Hotel in Highfield, Harare[1] and others. In 1960 he was the first black person to purchase a 1,872.0-hectare commercial farm (Zimdale farm in Marondera) from a white farmer,[citation needed] in the then colonial system by a racist white minority of Southern Rhodesia. To mark this historic milestone, Tawengwa and his wife Mabel were featured in a 1977 edition of the Rhodesia Herald (currently The Herald Zimbabwe) as a prominent couple in the African business community.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Tawengwa was born to Chirume and Maria (Mhariya) and had a younger brother Bernard Chirume, his only sibling.[citation needed] His mother died when he was only 4 years old.[citation needed] In 1927 at age 12 he was chased by his father from their Mwanza Village home in Goromonzi and wandered towards Marondera, finally settling in Ruzawi.[citation needed] He got his first job as a shepherd, herding goats and sheep for a white couple. Because of the disgruntlement with his father he later dropped the surname Chirume in favour of his middle name Tavengwa, which was misspelt in some early documents as Tayengwa, and later anglicised to the current Tawengwa.

Successful businessman[edit]

From Ruzawi he moved to Hwedza, where he set up his rural home. In November 1953 aged 38, The African Parade Magazine (now called The Parade) wrote an article titled "Successful Man of Business" about his early accomplishments in business.

Here is an extract from that article:-

Mr Tayengwa of Wedza (Hwedza) Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), was one of many Africans who had become successful business man even though e never saw the door of a school. In 1936 he took up wood work in Salisbury (Harare) before trying his hand at hawking in early 1941, an endeavour which he was such a success in that in the same year he had enough capital to open a store in Wedza at Chiwengwa Village Hall. His means of transport at first were donkeys until 1947 when he managed to buy a lorry, which he later converted into a bus at which point he launched his most successful business venture Mushandira Pamwe Bus Service. By 1951 he was running a fleet of four buses and in 1953 he opened a new store.[citation needed]

He died from diabetes at age 67.[citation needed]

Business accomplishments[edit]

He later established Mushandira Pamwe Bus Service with a fleet of over 150 buses, had several retail outlets throughout Zimbabwe, including his first major building project Mushandira Pamwe Centre in Dombotombo, Marondera. His nine large commercial farms averaged at least 1000 hectares each.[citation needed] A year before his death he had set in motion a regional expansion plan first to neighbouring Mozambique, a vision that was never fulfilled.[citation needed] The trading name Mushandira Pamwe means "working together as one". He believed as one much more could be accomplished.[citation needed] Therefore, unity is key for success.

Mushandirapamwe Hotel was at Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, the transitional residence of returning ZANU PF Officials and ZANLA troops.

His sons are all businessmen and farmers, with Charles Tawengwa and Solomon Tawengwa having served as mayors of Harare.[citation needed] Solomon Tawengwa served as Member of Parliament for Highfields between 1987 and 1990,[citation needed] a seat that had been made vacant when the then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe was elevated to the Executive Presidency. He also served twice as mayor of Harare, and became Harare's first Executive Mayor.[citation needed] He served on the politburo of ZANU-PF as Deputy Secretary for Economic Affairs and was also very active in corporate Zimbabwe serving as chairman of key listed companies and parastatals largely based on experience gained as he understudied his father in building Mushandira Pamwe.In November 2005, Charles Tawengwa was appointed Zanu PF Senator for Highfield, Glen Norah, Glen View in the Zimbabwean Parliament. In 2010 Charles Tawengwa was appointed to the ZANU PF politburo. On 3 September 2013, Charles Z Tawengwa was elected as senator for Harare Metropolitan. Charles Tawengwa is currently serving as Acting Chairman for ZANU - PF's Harare Province.


  1. ^ "Mushandirapamwe Hotel: The walls of the struggle". Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 

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