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Death of great man
DENIS NORMAN 1931-2019
Denis Norman, Zimbabwe’s first minister of agriculture after Independence in 1980, has died (December 21) in Oxfordshire, England, after a long battle against cancer of the oesophagus.
His appointment to Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s cabinet (at the suggestion of the late Lord Soames) after a long and bitter racial war that cost in the region of 35,000 lives came as a huge surprise.
At the time, it was seen as a strong and meaningful appointment that underscored Mugabe’s determination to cement racial and political reconciliation in a war-torn country.
Sadly, that policy did not last long and after serving Zimbabwe in various portfolios, Denis Norman and his wife, June, returned to England.
He told part of his, some would say amazing, story in a book called Odd Man In which was published last year by Weaver Press in Harare.
His death will be mourned by all those who knew him, worked with him and admired his honesty, integrity and ability to heal old racial wounds by doing so much to bring about the prosperity of thousands of small-scale black farmers while underlining the importance of experienced white commercial farmers and growers, once the backbone of a thriving agricultural sector of the economy.
One of the great men of the post-Independence era is no longer with us. It is hard to believe we will ever see the likes of him again in Zimbabwe.
(Above) John Laurie, President of the CFU with June and Denis Norman after he received the prestigious Farming Oscar for his services to agriculture – Picture with kind permission of Alexander Joe)