State House – A fire broke out in apartment C9 at the palatial Northfields Complex in Harare in the early hours of Monday.
The occupant of the luxurious flat was top investment banker and chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) Mr Douglas Munatsi.
It has since emerged that around 2.50am Mr Munatsi alerted neighbours of a fire in his penthouse and called out for help.
Charles Gardiner — one of his neighbours, who is also chairperson of the Northfields Owners Association — was among the first to hear the distress call and duly called the Harare Fire Brigade.
Within 11 minutes of the call, firefighters arrived at the scene. They took two hours to fight the raging inferno, by which time Mr Munetsi had already died.
The ZIDA CEO will be buried today at Greendale Cemetery in Harare, marking the end of an illustrious life of a pioneering corporate mind and patriot.
Investigations are still underway to find the cause of the fire.
The Sunday Mail reached out to the City of Harare’s fire department, who referred all questions to the police.
“All communication on this matter has to come from the police,” council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said.
And Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said investigations are ongoing.
“We are still conducting investigations and if any new information comes up, we will let you know,” he said.
A police source close to the investigation told The Sunday Mail that police are keen to interview a woman only identified as Colleta, who was the last person to see Mr Munatsi alive.
“We are still to account and interview the woman who is alleged to have visited the deceased the night before his death. We are also waiting to receive the report from the Fire Brigade to ascertain the cause of the fire. But so far there is nothing new,” said the source.
The Munatsi family has commissioned a separate autopsy with a South African pathologist as they seek closure.
This publication has gathered that the family intends to compare their autopsy report with one being undertaken by Government pathologists.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, the Munatsi family spokesperson, Mr Teddy Gazi, said they have lost a family pillar who uplifted many lives.
“He was an employer, educator and benefactor of many close and extended family members.
“He employed many relatives at Kunatsa Estates, Jacob Bethel and while at FMB and BancABC to name a few.
“He was looking after many orphaned and underprivileged children,” said Gazi.
Asked on whether the family suspects foul play, Gazi said they will wait for the report from law enforcement agents before they reach any conclusions.
“The family is grateful and appreciates the State assistance,” he said.
A sombre mood engulfed the ZIDA headquarters this week as Doug’s former colleagues struggled to come to terms with his sudden demise.
ZIDA chief investment and corporate affairs officer Mr Tino Kambasha described his late boss as a person who could bring out the best in everyone.
He said he remembered how they burnt the midnight oil while setting up the inaugural ZIDA secretariat.
“It was very difficult. Remember, he was appointed during Covid-19 and we had to work under extreme pressure. I was the first executive to be appointed at ZIDA, so I saw all the work he was putting in to make sure that the organisation succeeds,” he said.
“I remember when we would work long hours, holding interviews via Zoom seeking the right candidates for the various roles we had. We used to work extremely long hours.”
Mr Munatsi, he said, was gifted with wit and humour.
“He was a happy character, who loved to joke around a lot. Each time he walked into the office, he would bring either a joke or play us a new song he would have discovered,” he added.
Mr Munatsi was a gym and golf fanatic, who dedicated most of his free time to fitness and treading the golf course.
He leaves behind his widow Bindzile and sons Mussa, Bongani and Douglas Jnr. –Sunday Mail