MATABELELAND is beginning to locate their ZAPU identity after last week’s rallying call by their bush war hero Dumiso Dabengwa who broke ranks with ZANU-PF’s 1987 Unity Accord to revive the country’s oldest revolutionary political party.
While there has been media speculation about Dabengwa’s commitment to the revival of Zapu, there are no doubts that he is a war hero and his contributions in the liberation struggle were direct and intense.
Villagers who included ex-ZIPRA men listen to Dabengwa in Lupane.
Last week, hundreds of villagers from Lupane area converged at Dandanda, Sinangeni area to listen to the address by the former ZIPRA intelligence chief who at some stage was described by Western media as southern Africa’s most trained soldier.
According to a statement accompanied by pictures from Zapu’s publicity department, scores of villagers gathered to catch a glimpse of their war hero who did not mince his words on Zapu’s ambition to form the next government.
The occasion was nostalgic, there were former ZIPRA fighters and became a kind of reunion, soldiers meeting their commander.
They danced and sang revolutionary songs and relived those days when Dabengwa commandeered the ZIPRA guerrilla military incursions into Victoria Falls, Chipolilo, Kariba etc.
The ex-fighters spoke enthusiastically about bush war days and exchanged war diaries which involved executing the Rhodesian fierce war. All the way, they said Dabengwa commandeered them with expertise, they said he was a true soldier who told them surrender to Ian Smith was not an option.
The Rhodesian authorities got to know about Dabengwa’s influence and then decided to strike him where it pains, they went to Gwatemba area where is mother gogo MaTshuma lived with her grandchildren - shot and killed her in cold blood.
However, Dabengwa soldiered on, his ex-troops said.
“We all knew what had happened, but he said his dream was a free Zimbabwe,” said one of the ex-fighters.
While others entertained the youth with the liberation war chants, others danced and boasted as they awaited the arrival of DD as he is popularly known in ZAPU circles.
Dabengwa with some ZAPU members in Lupane
A spokesman said: “The Lupane members’ meeting was preceded by a public one a couple of days prior which drew a large crowd in Gwamayaya Nkayi. ZAPU members in Matebeleland North have been working extremely hard, readying party enthusiasts for possible by-elections this year. The party is urging all its members, supporters and sympathizers to study, discuss and deliberate on the draft document. ZAPU has repeatedly emphasized that its final position on the document will be shaped by the people from whom it owes its very existence not by politicians. The meeting at Dandanda in Lupane was part of the on-going initiative by the party leadership to stimulate debate on the latest draft in order for people to make an ‘informed decision’ according to Dr. Dabengwa, when the referendum is finally held”.
“The recent spate of negative publicity about the party and its leadership especially in the state controlled media has proven to be futile if it was meant to discourage ZAPU supporters. Judging from the enthusiastic crowds that turned up to show their support for ZAPU, negative publicity may have had the opposite of the intended outcome. However, angered by the multiplicity of news reports of the party’s failure to pay rent at one of its rented offices in Bulawayo, many ZAPU supporters have urged the party to launch a more aggressive campaign to demand the return of millions of dollars worth of its property that includes farms, motels and office buildings which were seized by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU government in the 1980s,” a spokesman said.
“Many people, especially former ZIPRA cadres could easily have by now established business ventures using that property, but instead they continue to live in abject poverty yet the fought hard to liberate the country. Numerous calls for ZANU PF to return the property have fallen on deaf ears, yet the same people talk about indigenization”.
“ZAPU believes that the answer to many of the country’s ills lies in the transfer of power to the people who are the true ‘owners’ of the state. The policy of devolution of power to the provinces will lay a foundation for a democratic state where people will be accorded the right to take charge of their own affairs. More than 80 per cent of Zimbabweans support the idea of devolution. The party is hopeful that its flagship policy of devolution, along with its ideology of ‘Human Rightism’ will propel its candidates to victory in the next elections.
“If recent meetings are in any way a measurement of ZAPU’s strength, one can understand the panic attacks that cause certain circles in the state media to launch a vicious campaign as an attempt to discredit the party. Be that as it may, all this may prove to be a bit late as the country’s oldest liberation movement’s revival has entered a new phase where there is no reverse gear. Every peace loving Zimbabwean and even its detractors may have to get used to the idea that ZAPU is back for good.,” he added.