Great speeches make great men… Mthulisi Hanana’s fully-charged speech at Dr Dumiso Dabengwa’s funeral service
In moments like these, it is safer to say, all protocols observed.
I would like to extend our warmest condolences to Mama Mrs Dabengwa, uMakhu, as ubaba fondly called her, to the Dabengwa children, Dabengwa and Khumalo families, ZAPU, ZPRA cadres, ubaba’s friends and colleagues from the various times in his life.
About 25 months ago, I had a meeting with Dr Dabengwa to discuss his legacy. It is at that meeting that the idea of having a Foundation was birthed. It did not take us too long to see that in preserving the legacy of such a giant, a Foundation would be a noble idea.
He initially resisted to have it named after him, saying he is not ‘big enough’. Those who are close to him would confirm that Dr Dabengwa was a man of humility. He lived his life as an ordinary person and never insisted on his greatness. He never self-aggrandized.
At the close of that meeting, he asked me to prove that I am serious about the issue of the Foundation by taking baby steps towards its set-up. We began a series of consultations with different stakeholders just to have a feel of how other people viewed the issue.
We consulted far and wide. Locally and internationally. The first person he directed us to outside family was his good friend in SouthAfrica, Walter Mavuso Msimang. I travelled to South Africa and had a discussion with him. Once all the consultations were made, he said to me that many had in the past come to him and indicated that they wanted to do something for him only to disappear. He said he hoped that I will not be one of them. I am glad to say I did not disappear till the end. I also promise I will not disappear still.
I came to understand the issue of disappearing as we spent more time with ubaba. It was the story of his life. People disappeared on him often only appeared when they needed to benefit from him.Make false promises and disappear again. A classic example is one High Court judge who promised to fully furnish the foundation office 2 years ago and to date we have not seen the furniture he claims he bought.
I remember so on after making this promise baba said to me “ngithe ngikubize for this meeting uzozizwela umuntu engiqambela amanga”. These amanga became the story of the Foundation. We agreed on the following objectives for the Foundation:
1. Seeing that Dr Dabengwa and his colleagues played a big role in the Liberation of this country and yet history is silent about them, it was apparent that the Foundation needed to be a platform for the correction and narration of history. If ever there is something that Dr Dabengwa was concerned about, it is the history of this country which conveniently omits and ignores the heroic contributions of ZPRA in the liberation of this country. As a result, we agreed that history might have versions but omissions are a serious injustice to future generations. As such we are working tirelessly to contribute to the true narrative of the history of this country.
2. The second thing that Dr Dabengwa was passionate about is young people. He believed that their time is now. He believed that the same way they had charted a course for this country at a young and tender age, this generation must do the same. He strongly felt that young people must be empowered and capacitated, mentored and inspired, encouraged and supported. In our last conversation over a whatsapp call from India, he had asked me to organize a meeting between him and different people and young people were part of that group. So the foundation seeks to create a platform for young people to be capacitated for different things in life. It is sad that Dr Dabengwa passes before we launched the DD Scholarship Program for rural youth. We will still do. He believed in young people and in that they must be given a chance.
3. The Foundation also seek stop romote Citizen Participation in issues related of Governance. Dr Dabengwa felt that the masses must be aware of their rights and responsibilities in the development of instruments and organs of government. He believed that the legacy of the liberation struggle is one man one vote which gives people a right and responsibility not only to choose their leaders but also to hold them accountable.
4. The final thing that the Foundation deals with is the issue of Gukurahundi. Dr Dabengwa is one of the prominent victims of Gukurahundi. I must say that he was scarred by the genocide till the day he passed on. The topic was ever an emotional subject for him. Till the day he died, he never understood why the comrades who fought the colonial government with them turned against them. He did not understand why civilians were butchered by an army supposed to be professional. On the day before he travelled to India, the Foundation staff met him at a clinic where he was getting a drip.
After the meeting, I stayed behind to discuss some things that were dear to him. Gukurahundi is one of them. He appealed that Gukurahundi must never be a closed chapter. The same way were for to the liberation struggle, we must always remind our people that people died for being Zapu, for being Ndebele and for supporting Joshua Nkomo.
The next genocide can only be avoided when this one is spoken about. When we set up the Foundation, Dr Dabengwa indicated that he has no money to finance it. I assured him that people will finance it. Though we have become used to false promises, I believe that this foundation will leave and continue to preserve the legacy of Dr Dabengwa.
It can’t afford to fold because Dr Dabengwa pleaded with us to continue. We will continue. We have gone for over a year without pay. We are passionate about the cause. We today call on all those concerned about his memoirs and are moved by the objectives to come on board. Dr Dabengwa had no money, that is why much ground was not covered. But all of us here working together can support his Foundation.
We expect that Nyaradzo will bury this giant tomorrow but also contribute to his Legacy by financing it after tomorrow. We expect the same from all cooperate giants like Econet Wireless, we expect the same from business people like Busisa Moyo, Morris Brown.
We expect the same from his networks, from Zimbabweans outside the country. From Ezra Tshisa Sibanda. From Amahlolanyama in South Africa. We expect the same from the different Foundations across the globe. Finally, we expect the same from government.
The death of Dr Dabengwa gives us an opportunity to do right by him. Those that made fake promises to the Foundation, as you view his mortal remains, I appeal to you to honor your pledges. The business people that refused to support him claiming he is an opposition leader and a person of interest, as you view his mortal remains today, may you see a statesmen worth supporting.
Politicians who viewed him as a threat and snubbed his Foundation to the point of refusing to attend the Matebeleland Dialogue that he initiated and refused to receive awards at the Foundation launch, as you view his mortal remains today, see an astute politician with no government scandal whose vision is worth supporting. Nelson Chamisa loved this man and was the only opposition leader who attended the Launch of the Foundation. We are grateful and commend you for being mature and sober at that moment.
To the government officials, as you view the mortal remains of ubaba, please remember he stole nothing from government. Remember he did not get the salary as a soldier upon retirement and subsequent arrest. Remember he receives no benefit or gratuity from serving in the army. Remember his farm was not given to him by government. Remember you detained him for 4 years engela cala. Please read the letters I wrote to you appealing for your support and when you go to your offices, do the right thing.
Zanu PF embers who call him a sellout, as you look at his mortal remains today, take a good look at him and tell us after if that indeed is the face of a sellout. Members in Zanu who were once Zapu, as you view the mortal remains of this your senior, may you repent and commit to support his vision. Clearly, the explanation that you need permission from ED or Chiwenga to do so does not suffice. The ED elivika ngaye did support DD in his last days.Lina lokhe lisesaba. I wonder if that is the message DD must take to Johua Nkomo.
Young people, as you view the mortal remains of this gallant son of the soil, please remember he changed the course of the country at a young age. Please rise up and becounted.
To our people, from this region who continuously voted for others when he heeded your call for National Leadership with an inclusive government, may you look at his mortal remains and ask yourselves what must be done for his legacy to echo in the corridors of power.
To Dr Dabengwa I say Fare thee well baba,
Get to the other side and speak of our misery,
Tell Tongogara and Mujuru that the army now assists in political transitions and now shoots at civilians,
Tell Lookout Masuku that his killers have not faced justice,
Tell Jini Ntuta that his murderers still have not seen the inside of a cell,
Tell the victims of Gukurahundi that acknowledgement and apology have not come 30 years on,
Tell Thenjiwe Lesabe that she is a National heroine and we will do our best for her to be accorded that status posthumously, someday,
Tell Chief Khayisa that umntankhe uthwele nzima,
Tell Joshua Nkomo that abantwana basabalele umhlabawonke. Akuphileki. Tell him also that amanzi ka Zambezi azafika.You left the project in the able hands of Sarah Ndlovu. Uzawafikisa amanzi.
Tell Msika that ufele endleleni because akula mithi lapha,
Tell Sikhanyiso Ndlovu Imiss his wisdom,
Tell the young people who sacrificed their lives that intsha iyahlokoma. Sikhona sijamile.