Political adviser, writer and law professor Alex Magaisa dies at 46

HARARE – Alex Tawanda Magaisa, former adviser to the late former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, has died.

He was 46 years old.

Magaisa was battling heart disease and succumbed to a heart attack at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Kent, south-east England.

A family spokesperson said Magaisa was admitted to hospital on Friday “after a series of power outages and suffered cardiac arrest around 10 a.m.” on Sunday. Doctors fought to save him after his wife called, but he was dead before she could arrive.

Magaisa was a professor of law at the University of Kent.

Citizens’ Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa paid tribute, describing Magaisa as “a force, a giant, a sober spirit and a formidable man” with “gigabytes of intellect”.

“It’s a huge blow. He died without seeing his heart’s desire: a great new Zimbabwe,” Chamisa said.

His academic colleague Ibbo Mandaza said Magaisa’s death was “a great loss for the intellectual community in Zimbabwe and for the struggle for a better and democratic Zimbabwe”.

“He was a fierce interlocutor, a prolific writer and a tireless contributor to the quest for a better Zimbabwe. His tragic death leaves an impossible to fill void in the nation’s public discourse,” former minister Jonathan Moyo said on Twitter.

Timo Olkkonen, head of the European Union delegation to Zimbabwe, said Magaisa’s death was “incredibly sad news”.

“It has been a long time since I had a conversation with him, but I have always greatly appreciated his insights and intellectual contribution,” Olkkonen wrote on Twitter.

Magaisa was a “distinguished public intellectual, a prolific writer and a thought leader”, said former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

“His contributions to the Zimbabwean discourse will always be appreciated,” he added.

Magaisa wrote columns for several newspapers and maintained a personal blog called ‘Saturday’s Big Read‘. Publications became increasingly sparse as he battled the disease, his last article being written on May 13.

On February 5, Magaisa tweeted, “Some say I’m unreachable. Sometimes I’ll play needles and cannulas with my good friends at the local hospital! You don’t get used to it but you learn to live with it. And before you ask, I’m on my way.