Gibson Jama Sibanda
Former Vice-President, Movement for Democratic Change-Mutambara
Date of Birth: 01/01/1944
Place of Birth: Filabusi, Matableland
Career: Fitter and train driver with National Railways of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia Railways), 1965-82; Secretary for welfare of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union,1976-79; President, Railways Association of Enginemen, 1982-84; President, Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railwaymen’s Union, 1984-88; First Vice-President, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, 1988; President, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, 1989-99; Vice-President, Movement for Democratic Change, 1999-05; Member of Parliament for Nkulumane, 2000-08; Vice-President, Movement for Democratic Change-Mutambara, 2006-2010; Minister of State in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, 2009-2010.
Commentary: Though a senior member of Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union in the 1970s, Sibanda made his name as President of the powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions when he formed a formidable team with Secretary-General, Morgan Tsvangirai. Together with Tsvangirai, Sibanda was instrumental in weaning the labour movement from the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front, leading President Mugabe to consider the two, Sibanda and Tsvangirai, as his arch-enemies since they controlled the most powerful urban constituency, the workers. His star continued to rise with that of Tsvangirai and he became Vice-President of the Movement for Democratic Change at its formation in 1999.
He was elected Member of Parliament for Nkulumane the following year beating
Dumiso Dabengwa one of the most powerful people in both ZANU-PF and the former ZAPU. His fortunes began to tumble when he joined Welshman Ncube to break-away from Tsvangirai in 2005. He lost his parliamentary seat in 2008 and has been in the political doldrums since. Sibanda was appointed Minister of State in Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s office where he is in charge of reconciliation and national integration. Sibanda’s position is very precarious as he is reported to be holding the ministerial post unconstitutionally since he does not have a seat in Parliament. Reports say Welshman Ncube, the man who broke away with him from Tsvangirai but sidelined him to bring in outsider Arthur Mutambara to lead the party, is giving Sibanda a hard time. He is reported to be relying more and more on his former colleague, Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai is reported to have pledged to support Sibanda if he was nominated by his party as Speaker of Parliament but the party decided to field Paul Themba Nyathi instead arguing that they could not field Sibanda because of his poor health. Sibanda was reported to be suffering from some
form of cancer. Nyathi lost after Tsvangirai decided to field his own candidate Lovemore Moyo . Observers said Sibanda had not been the same since the death of his wife Zodwa in December 2003. She is said to have been a pillar of strength in his life. Zodwa was both a political and human rights activist and was a member of the highly vociferous Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).
He died on 24 August 2010.