8 November 2013

Zimbabwe: President's First Private Secretary Dies

President Mugabe's first principal private secretary after independence, Mr Constantine Pafitis alias Costa has died.

He was 75.

Mr Pafitis was one of the people who worked under Ian Smith, but was retained by the then Prime Minister Cde Robert Mugabe soon after independence

Mr Pafitis' daughter Andrea, yesterday said her father suffered a heart attack on Tuesday while admitted at St Anne's Hospital.

"He was unwell from time to time during 2013 and after being admitted at St Anne's Hospital on November 3, he suffered a heart attack on the morning of Tuesday November 5," she said.

Born on May 20 1938, in the then Hartley now Chegutu, Mr Pafitis went to Livingstone and Blakistone Junior Schools in Harare and then Prince Edward senior school.

In 1956, he was appointed the headboy at the school and was selected as one of the five Officer Cadets to attend the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, United Kingdom.

Mr Pafitis later joined the First Batallion of the Kings African Rifles and was appointed Captain.

He went on to become a civil servant in the Rhodesian government subsequent to Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965.

His career soon moved into international diplomacy where he served Rhodesia under British sanctions in South Africa and Italy and upon his recall to Rhodesia, he was appointed Principal Secretary to Smith.

He remained in the post through the Lancaster House Conference and the months of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia under Bishop Abel Muzorewa.

Mr Pafitis was retained in this position by the then Prime Minister Mugabe at independence and retired from Government service in 1982.

"Although he was a non-participant in any form of active politics, he always retained a keen interest in politics and race relations in this country," said Andrea.

"Like his father, Savva, who was the first hotelier in Southern Africa to declare his hotels multiracial, Costa was a true diplomat and unifier who embraced people from all walks of life.

"Through his prolific and varied career, he met and identified with representatives from countries the world over, and this helped him find commonalities with all cultures and creeds."

Andrea said her father was a semi-retired businessman and spent his last years at his home in Emerald Hill together with his wife Elaine.

Early this year, he published his autobiography "Through The Arch of Constantine", recounting a 40-year journey of his personal experiences and opinions.

He is survived by his wife Elaine (73), eldest daughter Paula (52), son Phillip (49) and youngest daughter Andrea (36).

He also has three grandchildren, Katherine, Amalia and Alexander.

A church service will be held on Tuesday next week at 10am at the Greek Orthodox Church along Leopold Takawira Street before burial on a date still to be announced.

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