Accessibility links

Breaking News

Late Alex Magaisa's Family Says Decorated Zimbabwean Academic Died of Cardiac Arrest

Late law lecturer Alex Magaisa
Late law lecturer Alex Magaisa

The family of the late academic and political blogger, Alex Magaisa, say he suffered cardiac arrest while he was undergoing treatment and tests on Sunday.

In a statement, the family said, "We the families of Alex and Shamiso Magaisa regret to announce the passing on to glory of our husband, father, brother, uncle and nephew - Alex Tawanda Magaisa. We will miss him sorely and may God grant his soul repose. Alex was undergoing treatment and tests when he suffered a cardiac arrest at 8am on Sunday 5th June.

We thank you all for your messages of love and support and now kindly plead for time and privacy as we mourn our loved one. Other developments will be announced in due course."

Magaisa, who was a writer of the hugely followed

'The Big Saturday Read' and once worked in the late Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgen Tsvangirai's office as an advisor, worked as a lecturer at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom.

Condolence messages have been pouring from many Zimbabweans, including government Information Secretary, Nick Mangwana.

In a tweet, Mangwana said, "Really saddened to learn of Alex’s death. My kids went to Uni of Kent and whenever I visited my kids, Alex, Gift and I would have a meal and a drink together. We politically disagreed but it was never personal. We had many TV debates on opposing sides but remained bros. RIP Bro.”

Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa praised the late academic for fighting for democracy.

Chamisa summed it all about Magaisa in a tweet. “A HUGE BLOW FELLOW CITIZENS! What a force, a giant! What a human being! What an intelligent man! What gigabytes of intellect! What a fine great man! What a sober mind! What a cool character! What a lovely brother! And he has not seen his heart’s desire-A New Great ZIMBABWE.”

London-based Zanu PF activist Simba Mavaza told VOA Livetalk that "Magaisa and l never liked each other but despite that, he played a critical role in keeping us aware of many issues in Zimbabwe."

Burial arrangements of the late academic are in progress.

Celebrating a brother’s Life!!! Mukoma Alex!

Below is a special tribute written by VOA Zimbabwe Service’s Evans Zininga, who was Magaisa’s junior at a Roman Catholic Church-run school.

Alex Tawanda Magaisa (born August 9, 1975) was a United Kingdom based Zimbabwean academic and lecturer of law at the Kent Law School of the University of Kent. He served as the Advisor (Chief of Staff) of the then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai from 2012-2013. Prior to becoming advisor to the Prime Minister, Magaisa had been working as a core member of a team of experts tasked to advise him on the drafting of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe. He is known for his legal, political and social commentary work on issues affecting Zimbabwe and other developing nations through his blog ‘The Big Saturday Read’. His work is sometimes featured by Zimbabwean news outlets including The Standard, Daily News, and The Herald.

Magaisa was born in Chikomba District, Zimbabwe (then known as Charter District, Rhodesia). He completed his high school education at a boarding school at St. Francis of Assisi High School in the Mashonaland East province. He then matriculated at the University of Zimbabwe, graduating in 1997 with a Bachelor of Laws degree. After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe, Magaisa joined one of the prestigious law firms in Zimbabwe, Gill Godlonton & Gerrans Legal Practitioners as an Associate. Later in 1999, he went on to pursue post graduate studies at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom where he graduated with a PhD in Law in 2003. Magaisa then worked as a regulatory enforcement manager for Jersey Financial Services Commission, the financial services regulator in Jersey until 2007. In September 2007, he joined the University of Kent Law School as a lecturer and researcher. His main areas of teaching and research were company law, intellectual property law and international financial regulation. Magaisa leaves a wife, Shamiso, and two sons, all living in the UK.

Wa Magaisa, as we he was affectionately known in our circle of friends, brothers, Old Boys Association, was an avid reader. In 2019, he was on a prestigious fellowship program here in the USA, for a couple of months. He had a book every time we would meet up for a drink or chat. He read everything, you would think because of his decorations academically and politically, he would be a nerd. Alex was all sorts of things. He was not an average kinsmen kind of a guy. He enjoyed a good Bourbon once in a while. We had a couple of drinks on various days during his last trip to USA.

There are very few legends from my high school -St Francis of Assisi High School - for different reasons. Some of the greatest talents in this era were groomed there and, yes, we were boys. I remember a popular saying Mukoma Alex would say, “God said let there be a lawyer at St. Francis of Assisi and came Alex Magaisa.” Mukoma Alex was still as profound, eloquent and expressive like always . His stories about his upbringing in Sadza, his love for his roots, village stories, like the one I always tell my new friends - Mamvura, a mad man , who promised people he was going to drive the bus one day, and fulfilled his rantings. He drove the bus away one day …! Aaah Musaigwa, as we called him when we got to some deep, inner circles, would never let an opportunity to advice and guide the younger generations. He would have a word or more for all situations. He was a preacher in that ministry. He was also very stubborn. He lived his life everyday, he would give you a run for your money if you did choose to get into a debate or argument with him. He behaved like Robert Mugabe - ready to argue anytime anywhere, sometimes I picture both of them in their hey days and wish I could have them debate from either side of the table. He would have given Bob a run for his money! No pun intended.

I joined the Voice of America at a time when Zimbabwe was going through some moment of change. You would remember the November 2017 Shenanigans! Mukoma Alex gave me the biggest support of my time, giving me political insights, analysis and commentaries as things unfolded and he remained a huge resource to my network.

On his birthday four years ago, this is what I said to him. “Mukoma as you turn 44 today, please remember to never forget vafanha venyu. Please remember to go to the men’s clinic as often as possible. You have seen many Christmas seasons. Please remember you don’t live once, you live everyday but only die once! Please remember to always take one for the team members when ever you can. I know tomorrow is Saturday, we will see yet another Big Saturday Read. I wanted to make this week special by giving you a pre-Big Saturday Read. All I am trying to say is Happy Birthday Mukoma Tawanda. Makura Musaigwa. Be Blessed now and forever.”

When former Minister of Trade and International Relations, Sibusiso Moyo, died in January 2021, Magaisa tweeted, “When I wish SB Moyo well, it has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with humanity. For the past 5 years I have lived with a chronic illness, believing in the right thing. Yet for many, Magaisa is a great man. I’m not. It’s not in my hands. I fight like all else.” This was a hint on his battle with a chronic ailment, having gone through a heart operation before, the world would have never guessed his time was coming so soon. No one would have known he was getting close to the end. It is so sad that he did not get the chance to go back home to see his beloved Mountain View of the Gandamusungo. May His Soul Rest in Peace!!!