ZAPU’s secretary-general, Dr Strike Mkandla (70) has launched his presidential bid ahead of the elective congress set for this August, saying the revolutionary party requires a leader who will value its history and will steer it forward.
Dr Mkandla believes ZAPU needs a leader who understands what transition is in relation to its current situation, not individuals who will make fake promises to mislead people.
ZAPU’s presidential seat became vacant after the death of Dr Dumiso Dabengwa in 2019 and the party had been operating without a vice president since 2018.
The party had slated to hold its elective congress in April but was forced to move it to August due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
In an interview with CITE, Dr Mkandla said his campaign theme was ‘authentic transition’ promising to provide able leadership for the opposition party.
“Dabengwa was pulled in 2010 to lead and he was highly experienced both in the military and also in the political terrain. Therefore, he was the best suited to run after Nkomo after it was re-established from coming out of the belly of Zanu-PF.”
Dr Mkandla becomes the third presidential candidate to be chosen by a province after the Chitungwiza branch nominated him over the weekend
The other two presidential candidates are Bernard Magugu who was selected by the South African branch while the European branch opted for ZAPU’s current Treasurer- General Mark Mubayiwa.
Dr Mkandla said the transition was crucial as no one must be anointed a leader “because they belonged somewhere or were a child of someone.”
“Dabengwa and his group started the armed struggle when they were young in the 1960s and 1970s. When I went to Lusaka in the 1970s, Dabengwa was less than 32 years, I was less than 22 and that tells you people were not invited to take over leadership. They begin doing things until they became leaders in their own right,” Dr Mkandla said, noting therefore any authentic transition has to take into account that this party has a history of what it has achieved, in spite of the current difficulties.
“ZAPU has a lot of unfinished business, which it has to finish as a movement. If we keep on thinking we’re inventing everything, we shall go nowhere because people without a history who don’t know where they come from, can’t they say where they’re going.”
The SG highlighted that ZAPU needed real transition not just gimmicks.
“It is quite easy to promise the world that ‘when I come in, ZAPU will have money tomorrow morning’ and yet some of those people never contributed a cent,” Dr Mkandla said.
“They don’t know how difficult it is to maintain an organisation, which doesn’t have resources, is not a favourite of the donors and is not taking money from the government. In other words, it is a proper opposition that has to build its own name. But at the end of the day, the important thing is we must know where we are and where we are going and why we are where we are.”
Dr Mkandla lamented it was unfortunate “there are people who spend most of their time attacking ZAPU leadership and have never done anything to attack Zanu-PF.”
He said such people assumed ZAPU was an easy target “because we are their friends and we are going to be nice to them. We are going to stop being nice because people who want to destroy the party will be resisted like anyone else was to destroy inside or from outside.”
“We want to make it clear they are not going to succeed in attacking the party and being inside elements that are preoccupied with destroying the party. We shall not take it.”
The SG said the ZAPU presidential seat was open to anyone but that was subject to rules.
“In 2020, the leadership decided that to run for the presidential level, you must have been a member of the organisation for at least five years. Below that you’re not qualified. To become a national executive member, you must have been a member for at least three years so that we are not confused by people coming today, who think they can reinvent the party, ZAPU must have a sense of continuity,” Dr Mkandla said.