The late national hero, Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, never forgave Zanu for the torture of his ZPRA compatriot, Lookout Masuku, who died in detention on alleged trumped-up charges for plotting to overthrow the government, CITE has heard.
Dabengwa was arrested together with Masuku on allegations of plotting a coup against then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s government in 1982, although the High Court cleared them of the allegations, the Zanu government arrested them as soon as they stepped outside the court and detained them illegally.
The claims of Dabengwa’s lifelong anger over the circumstances of Masuku’s death surfaced at his memorial service held Sunday in Emanxeleni, Ntabazinduna where the late national hero’s family, ZAPU members, gathered to commemorate his death and celebrate his life.
Dabengwa died on 23 May 2019.
ZAPU Treasurer General, Mark Mbayiwa, told the gathering that Dr Dabengwa refused to be buried at Heroes Acre as he was angry at Zanu for the injustices they committed including his torture with his friend, Masuku.
“I am proud to speak of Dabengwa who I knew from childhood. Dabengwa saw everything that happened in the country. He would say when he died he wanted to be buried next to his parents and relatives, not the thugs who have destroyed this country. It’s not a secret that Zanu-PF has destroyed this country and we are struggling because of that,” he said.
As Mbayiwa said this, he acknowledged the presence of Masuku’s widow, Gift, at the memorial despite the absence of Dabengwa’s widow, Zodwa, who is out of the country on medical grounds.
In 2019, when Dabengwa’s corpse arrived in Bulawayo from Kenya where he died en route to Zimbabwe from India, Lookout Masuku’s widow cried uncontrollably at the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport, as her late husband was a friend, confidante and comrade with Dabengwa having served in the liberation trenches together.
The scene was reminiscent of April 1986, at Masuku’s funeral when Zodwa, widow to Dabengwa, was the one who at that time sobbed mercilessly.
The ZAPU treasurer-general said he had faith Dabengwa’s family would honour his wishes and not send him to Heroes Acre, so much that he even announced his burial place before the family had publicly done so.
“On the day Dabengwa died, I was sent to give a solidarity statement to the MDC congress and I immediately said that he would be buried at his home in Ntabazinduna. If ever the family were to go against him, I and the rest of ZAPU would have not gone to Heroes Acre but come here in Ntabazinduna and sit at this gravesite until he was buried here,” Mbayiwa said.
ZAPU president, Isaac Mabuka, added that Dabengwa was a courageous person who bravely led their breakaway from Zanu-PF.
“Dabengwa came to me and said Mabuka ‘until when must we be dominated by Zanu.’ He said if we continued in Zanu-PF, ZAPU would fade away so the mother party must be revived,” he said.
“He mobilised ZAPU cadres at his office, urging us to come out saying, ‘it was better to struggle in ZAPU.’ I thought he was joking but no. Dabengwa then sent people to then Vice President, the late Joseph Msika, who was the senior ZAPU person there. Msika advised us to do a special congress and when that was done I marvelled at his bravery.
“When we told him that we were being threatened for announcing we were leaving Zanu and I was one of the people who made that announcement, Dabengwa said, ‘let them do what they want, we are leaving Zanu’ and we did.”
Mabuka said it was painful that today, Dr Dabengwa was no more.
“He was our ZAPU leader and was stepping down, saying members must elect their own preferred leader come congress. I also want to thank ZAPU members that there has been no jostling for positions, unlike other parties where members fight and even try to burn each other in houses. This is because people are principled like Dabengwa,” he said.
“We are united and I urge this unity until after congress and support the leader who comes in.”
The ZAPU leader also spoke against the Constitutional Amendment (No.2) Bill saying it would bring repercussions for future generations.
“This government amended the constitution so that the president (Emmerson Mnangagwa) amasses power and single-handedly chooses judges, vice presidents and ministers. But these amendments will have bad consequences for the future,” Mabuka said.
“This is not about Mnangagwa only because there will come another despot who will choose their relatives and disregard constitutionality, which will be troublesome for future generations. What kind of country will this be, when anyone is thrust into power without the say of people?” he said.
Dr Dabengwa’s niece, Faith Joko, who represented the family echoed sentiments that her uncle was courageous, loving and loved unity, which was evident in the coming together of families including ZAPU.
“Unity and respect is the legacy he left behind,” she said.