JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwe’s opposition Zapu party called on Zimbabwean youth to join it and enforce the wishes of the country’s fallen national liberation war heroes.
Zapu deputy secretary for International Relations, Future Msebele, said this to scores of Zimbabweans and South Africans, who converged at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, to mourn the death of ZAPU President and former ZIPRA intelligence supremo, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa Sunday.
As speakers drawn from an assortment of groups that included Zimbabwean opposition parties, civil society, cultural activists and Umkhonto we Sizwe, the former military wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, lauded Dabengwa for his self-immolation during and after Zimbabwe’s liberation war, Msebele called on Zimbabwe’s young people to immortalise the “Black Russian” by joining the struggle to shape a new trajectory for the country.
He described Dabengwa as a leader who never accepted failure and a father figure who would make anyone feel close to him.
“We had the best leader who would make anyone near him feel more special and loved than any other person, not knowing that all those who met him were treated in exactly the same way,” said Mr Msebele, largely touted as the front-runner to carry the baton left by Dabengwa and lead Zapu beyond its 2020 congress.
“He treated any person working with him like trained people and he would give them commands, regardless of they were. He had his own way of training us into becoming what we are today.”
Msebele, who rose through Zapu ranks – where he held the positions of Secretary-general and chairman of the party’s Youth Wing, took over the party’s Policy and Strategy portfolio, until his current position, became emotional when he recalled how Dabengwa was ill-treated by the Zanu (PF) government after independence.
“We know those who persecuted Dabengwa and threw him in prison on false charges of insurgency in a country for which he had sacrificed his youthful years fighting for,” said the ZAPU leader.
“Although Dabengwa had – even according to the courts, done anything wrong, they still persecuted him but surprisingly, those same people who arrested him are the ones who are talking about him today saying he is a hero. We know them and we know what to do with them. We do not need any signal on how to deal with them. We know what we should do with them.”
He said Dabengwa was a principled leader who shaped Zapu into a disciplined party though it had youth members who wanted to be violent in solving problems.
“Let me warn those who persecuted Dabengwa, those who are standing in our path as we are trying to build a Zimbabwe that Dabengwa stood for, that the man who has been restraining us is gone and now we will deal with you. Dabengwa valued peace at all costs, but now he is gone and we know what to do with you. We are taking the struggle to another level.
“May I also take this opportunity to invite young people to be part of our journey as we immortalise Dabengwa’s spirit by seizing the initiative to shape the Zimbabwe we want under Zapu. I know there are many who left the party and started something of their own, but this is the time we should unite and stand for what we believe in. All those who left Zapu for whatever reason and those who have never joined the party, please come join Zapu so that together we can shape the Zimbabwe we want.”
“I call upon all our former members to come back to the party so that we can rebuild it. We do not change our surnames even if our fathers are poor. Yes, I know that we have opened so many tuck-shops out there, but it’s only Zapu that can take us to a better tomorrow.”
Alliance for People’s Alliance member Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu, said Dabengwa should be seen as a symbol of success, not a fireplace where people only came to warm themselves.
“We do not want people who see this symbol of success as a fireplace, instead we should use him as our source of strength and inspiration. We are scattered all over the world, which requires us to be united. Once we allow division to rock us we will be destroyed,” said Ndlovu, who showed the rest of the mourners his ZAPU membership card and said the time had come for young people to rejoin the party and strengthen it in the spirit of Dabengwa.
One of the claimants to the Ndebele throne Stanley Raphael Tshuma/Khumalo, called for unity, especially among the people of Matabeleland.
“Zapu was led by a principled leader who always humbled himself. We might differ in a number of things but we must not forget our humanity especially on such gatherings as this one,” said the self-proclaimed Ndebele king, whose address was preceded by a walkout by Ibutho Lenqama members, who are in bed with Collins Bulelani Khumalo, another claimant to the same throne.
Tshuma-Khumalo said Dabengwa’s death had robbed people of especially Matabeleland, of their source of inspiration and uniting figure who sacrificed his lifetime for the good of all Zimbabweans.
“Dabengwa was a source of information that we so much need. I am afraid that we won’t get more information anymore as other leaders are not ready to share.”
Zapu South Africa provincial chairman Bongani Halimana described Dabengwa as a man of a few words.
“He would say ‘yebo jaha’ and keep quiet for some time, probably studying you. His few words were pregnant with intelligence, investigations and wisdom. Our leader is gone but the revolution is still on.”
Zapu secretary for Information and publicity Iphuthile Maphosa did not spare his anger against those who ill-treated Dabengwa when they threw him behind bars for now suddenly heaping praise on him. He said they had failed to recognise the good things he did while he was still alive, only to sugarcoat their lies by praising him after his death.
“These people have seriously insulted the Black Russian. I don’t see any reason why they are praising him like this now while they saw him as an enemy when he was fighting for his people. We, as especially the people of Mthwakazi, are so proud of DD because he heeded Joshua Nkomo’s advice that they should go into the Unity Accord with Zanu PF and leave without its dirt, which is exactly what Dabengwa did,” said Maphosa.
“As we speak, some cadres who are not as strong as DD are still in Zanu PF, making life more difficult for us. Those who are in bed with Zanu are our worst enemies.”