THE state media has reported that Retired Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri, a former ZIPRA chief of staff, says he recently met Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa who confided in him that he is prepared to work with Zanu-PF but would want the 1987 Unity Accord to be reviewed.
According to Munyaradzi Huni’s Sunday Mail, Rtd Brig Mutinhiri however said Dabengwa may have genuine grievances but “I don’t think the best way to handle problems is to go and talk from outside,” as the conditions are conducive to resolve such issues within Zanu-PF.
Earlier Huni had an exclusive interview with Dabengwa, he said the former ZIPRA commander, had also told Brigadier Mutinhiri that he would never work with “anybody who has not fought for this country.”
As a former ZIPRA supremo, when he was asked whether the departure of Dabengwa from Zanu-PF meant the Unity Accord was no longer holding, Rtd Brig Mutinhiri said:
“Yes, I think the Unity Accord is still holding. Where we have a few people who are disgruntled, you can’t say the Unity Accord is no longer there.
“All of us may not be very happy about what is happening in the country, but the solution is not to walk away, but this is the way we react. We react differently to situations. I believe what Dabengwa is trying to do, is trying to be heard.
“There are grievances within former ZIPRA, certainly there are grievances, you know the question of properties, the question of equal opportunities within the Unity Accord. Those grievances are there and they are genuine. They are genuine but I don’t think the best way to handle problems is to go and talk from outside. Things can be talked about from within and be resolved.”
When he was asked whether such grievances can be discussed freely in Zanu-PF, Rtd Brig Mutinhiri said: “I believe these issues can be talked about inside Zanu-PF.
“I have spoken to Dabengwa and what he has said to me is that he is willing to work with Zanu-PF but he says the Unity Accord must be revisited.
That’s what he said to me. He said because we have these grievances and so on and so forth but he said he really would never work with anybody else who has not fought for this country. That’s what Dabengwa told me and that’s not a long time ago. This is like about a month-and-a-half ago.”
In an interview with The Sunday Mail about three weeks ago, Dabengwa said he is prepared to meet President Mugabe if he calls him anytime for a meeting.
Huni insists that Dabengwa in that interview went on to call PM Tsvangirai a “little Chiluba”, giving a clear indication that he is not prepared to work with the
MDC-T leader, a position that he reaffirmed to Rtd Brig Mutinhiri when he said he will not work with anyone who has not fought for the country.
Rtd Brig Mutinhiri said if the late VP Joshua Nkomo was alive, he would not approve the departure of people like Dabengwa from Zanu-PF because “When he committed himself to the Unity Accord, he did it genuinely.”
He said there are “three or four things, very important things that have happened in this country. That’s the Independence itself, the Unity Accord, the land reform and now the economic empowerment.” He added that the Unity Accord “was something that was long overdue. This could have been achieved during the liberation struggle.”
Rtd Brig Mutinhiri narrated how, after rising through the Zipra ranks during the liberation struggle, he was left in the cold during the integration of the Zipra and Zanla forces at Independence adding the he was rescued by the then Prime Minister, Mugabe.
“At integration, I was nothing until I met Prime Minister (President Mugabe) at one function and he wanted to know what I was doing. In fact, I was in trouble because there was suspicion that Zipra was planning an uprising and were hiding some of their members of the high command and they were referring to people like myself, Chirenda and a few others. So I had CIO behind me, thinking that I was doing some subversive activities underground and so on.
“At the same time, I was unemployed. I was just a suffering someone walking in the streets. So it just happened one day, I went to a function and
I met the then Prime Minister, Mugabe, who wanted to know what I was doing. And when I told him I was doing nothing, I was just unemployed and walking the streets of Harare, he couldn’t believe me. So he asked some people to find out what was really happening.
“I was referred to Sekeramayi, to Mnangagwa and others. Hence my first appointment was to be posted to the United States, because people really wanted to establish who I was and what I was doing. So I was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel and posted to the United States as a defence advisor.”
He said he met the then Prime Minister around 1980 or at the beginning of 1981.
When he was asked whether he is bitter that he was left in the cold, he said: “I am very bitter. I am very bitter. Yes, it was a liberation struggle and I was not in it for a reward, but I deserved at least a thank you. Like all those who survived. Like all those who survived. I am really grateful to those who then realised that I deserved to be thanked and assisted me to join the Zimbabwe National Army.”
The Rtd Brig went on to confirm that indeed after the passing on of Dr Msika, he wrote to some provinces in Matabeleland seeking their support for the post of the Vice-President.
When he was asked what happened to his bid he said: “I was defeated. What else can I say? I felt I deserved and I still think I deserve to be the Vice-President . . . Because of my seniority in the then Zapu. I thought in the absence of people like Dabengwa, I surely deserved.”
Despite his rich history in the liberation struggle, Rtd Brig Mutinhiri remained modest when he was asked how he would want to be remembered.
“I just want to be remembered as one of the sons who fought and played his part in the liberation of this nation. I did what I could as a citizen, but I am just a drop in the ocean. The victory of the liberation movement is not one man’s victory. It is the victory of the people.” - Additional Reporting Sunday Mail.