The Sunday Mail
Addressing thousands of students at her Mazowe Children’s Home on November 17, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe said ousted Zanu-PF Mashonaland East chair and factional kingpin Ray Joseph Kaukonde had forged his educational qualifications to build his political and business career. He allegedly used Ordinary Level qualifications belonging to Ray Chimbwanda. The Sunday Mail followed up on the matter and the following are the findings of our Investigations Editor, Brian Chitemba.
Ray Kaukonde, according to family members and the Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe community, was born Joseph Kaukonde in Mudzi South before he was adopted by the late Mr Timothy Chimbganda who was headmaster of Chikwizo Primary School.
Mr Chimbganda, who died in December 1995, was a philanthropist who helped many children, including Joseph Kaukonde, whom he took under his wing in 1966 when he was aged four.
His mother had died and his father’s polygamous situation was unsuitable for young Joseph Kaukonde.
He grew up as part of the Chimbganda family and was for a while in the same class at Nyadiri Primary School as Ray Michael Tapiwa Chimbganda, the late headmaster’s first born.
Thereafter he attended Hartzell High School while Ray Michael, a very bright pupil, went St Augustine’s Mission.
He was given a bursary to study from Form 2 to 4 by Father Prosser, who was the St Augustine’s principal at the time.
Ray Michael attained three As, five Bs and a C at St Augustine’s in 1978 and got a scholarship to further his education in the United Kingdom, where he read at Airdale and Waharferdale College of Further Education for Advanced Level – studying Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, before he applied to study Civil Engineering at Bradford University.
However, Ray Michael returned home in 1981 after developing an eyesight problem.
Family sources say that while Ray Michael was away, Joseph Kaukonde got hold of his “O” Level certificate and used it to get a job as a temporary teacher.
Mr Chimbganda, being fairly senior in the district education set-up, stumbled upon this and confronted Joseph Kaukonde.
Joseph resigned from teaching but allegedly did not surrender the certificate then, and in 1980 instead went on to be attested in the Zimbabwe Republic Police as a patrol officer, before he was transferred to several Government departments.
He moved into the corporate world where he worked for Willowvale Motor Corporation as a manager in the late ‘80s and from there built an empire under his Scotia Holdings.
Ray Michael was hostile when The Sunday Mail visited him at his rural home in Murewa where Kaukonde is building a house for him.
“I can’t discuss anything concerning my uncle (Kaukonde)… leave my homestead,” said Ray Michael.
Kaukonde is understood to have over the decades sought to keep the Chimbganda family quiet through a mix of his financial and political muscle.
But not all are happy with his handouts, which included building another house for the late headmaster.
A close family member who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “As the two grew up, we knew Ray Michael Chimbganda and Joseph Kaukonde … we can’t really explain what happened but Kaukonde changed his name so that he could use Ray’s certificates.
“This is not something new; everyone in the family knows about this. To silence us, Kaukonde uses money to buy everyone. But his ‘O’ Level certificate is fake, it’s not his.”
Another family member narrated: “Kaukonde’s father had a shop, he was rich but Kaukonde couldn’t go home because he had another wife. That’s how he joined the Chimbganda family.
“He was young, he was born when Chimbganda was already a headmaster at Chikwizo and Mrs Chimbganda was deputy head there.
“He was always known as Joseph. That’s his name. He was sent to school by Mr Chimbganda but we don’t know whether he passed his ‘O’ Levels or not.
“He failed exams, he used Ray’s certificate. Kaukonde taught at Mutoko using Ray’s certificates but Chimbganda discovered his son’s certificate was being used.
“Mr Chimbganda warned Kaukonde and told him to stop using the documents but he didn’t withdraw the certificate. Kaukonde then disappeared for a while and we suspect he even went further to forge a certificate and covered all tracks.
“He knows what he did and even the victim knows he was cheated by Kaukonde … Ray’s wife is very vocal about the issue. Kaukonde doesn’t see eye to eye with Ray’s sisters who are based in the United Kingdom. They hate him because they know the certificates he is using were stolen.
“Kaukonde haana kudzidza…but he made money very fast, he bought two buses and we used to see him close to President Mugabe and people wondered how he got there because we knew he had not passed his ‘O’ Levels.
“Kaukonde then bought the family about five cattle, two John Dere tractors, built a house and electrified the homestead to bribe the family not to expose the scandal.
“The family used to meet over the Kaukonde scandal back then but he has money and no one dares to question him now.”
A senior Zanu-PF official in Mashonaland East also said Kaukonde’s qualifications were questionable.
“We all know that Kaukonde’s real name is not Ray, he is Joseph. He didn’t use his academic certificates to get jobs in Government. It’s a scandal,” he said.
At her meeting with students at Mazowe Children’s Home recently, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe said of the matter: “Hanzi ainzi Joseph Kaukonde achigara nemwana wemumwe murumwe ainzi Ray but with a different surname.
“Kaukonde ranga riri dofo ndobva aba certificate and forged it then he left Ray but added the surname Kaukonde. Saka zvinorongwa nemadofo zvinongofa.”