Obituary: Captain Eric Mataba
3 June 2024
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By Dr Raymond Chamba| Way back in the day, I wrote my A Level exams in June and did well enough to leave others at school while I started working for Air Zimbabwe. Working for Air Zimbabwe was my gap year while I awaited to start US college in the fall quarter (August) of the next year.

The late Eric Mataba

My life and perspective changed dramatically in the very first month I was introduced to the friend of my Senior Duty Manager one Mrs Getrude Khumalo. That person was Capt Eric Mataba. He had a company named Black Rose at the 3rd or 4th Floor of Takura House in Harare.

From that meeting was created a business relationship where I would fly everywhere around the world running errands for him and his company. I would fly into at least two countries every week on average meeting people, going to different companies, taking critical goods needed by industry and business back in Zimbabwe and SADC region in general. My passport on average filled up every four months as I only demanded that I go to different countries and never over haggling on the price of my “courier services for the pilots and airline bosses”.

I was making money hand over fist and I remember not cashing my pay checks until late after they became a nuisance in my drawer. Air Zimbabwe introduced me to travel, big money and the ability to keep my calm and confidence talking to anyone from anywhere. College later introduced theories and case studies to things I knew and enjoyed doing.

I remember one day after we had a very successful three weeks flying to Perth, Sydney, Lanarca, London and Frankfurt that we got paid so much money by Capt Mataba that I had to get two big bags from Fulton and Evans stuffed with USD, British Pounds and Zim dollar cash. I had my great friend at the airline Elder Derrick Chikore and we went into OK First Street looking for pies. The security guy harassed us insisting that shoppers luggage bags were not allowed inside the store. The guy almost fainted when we half opened the bags and made him understand that it was our cash wallets. This was 1990. Capt Mataba never underpaid, never late in paying and always encouraged me to leave Air Zimbabwe and go further my education.

He had humility beyond measure. His job took him to the skies but his manner kept him on the ground with everyone. Never too busy to share a laughter and never too late to encourage someone. Capt Mataba was the quintessence of Zimbabwean aviation glory and this took him everywhere around the world. What a fine Ambassador of local professional excellence.

Within 11 months, I flew on not less than 120 flights to more than 42 countries on his errands which were nothing less than global joy rides for me. For a teenager from Chitungwiza by way of Mutare my world vision and confidence was forever changed and challenged. I was not a stranger to big meetings, big money and confidence across all settings because I knew that those that send me depended on my total and full execution. I had the confidence to negotiate duty payments with the head of Customs at Harare International Airport.The dude was a scoundrel who later went on to become an important cabinet Minister. For all his fear mongering I knew early on that all he needed was money…..

Chokes off. Go well Capt Eric Mataba. Fly well into the last stop Skipper, but your profound impact remains with the very many lives you touched. What a man. What a Zimbabwean giant…..