HARARE – Former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa has sensationally claimed that he was dragged to be part of the Unity Accord by the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
By Andrew Kunambura
Dabengwa said Nkomo and the Zapu leadership demanded that he participated in the accord so as to save the lives of the people who were being murdered by the fifth brigade in the brutal operation dubbed Gukurahundi.
“The most painful thing was for me to be then dragged by our leader Nkomo. I spent over three hours arguing with him about accepting the Unity Accord and he said to me, ‘fine if you have any better solution than the one we have to stop the atrocities that are taking place, stopping the Gukurahundi from killing our people bring it’.
“I found myself completely outside my own wishes,” said the intrepid former fighter who spoke with a trademark slow, carefully punctuated voice full of conviction.
The blood-flecked eyes which have obviously seen it all suddenly open as he recounts his own ordeal during the period largely regarded as the darkest period in independent Zimbabwe.
He said that while he has forgiven the Gukurahundi perpetrators, he will never forget.
“When I retired from the army in 1982 and decided to go into private life, I thought I was giving an opportunity to people who I thought would be able to carry out and fulfil the aspirations of our people, particularly the values our forces attached to the liberation of Zimbabwe.
“And no sooner had I retired than I found myself being accused of having committed treason and being taken to the courts where I got discharged after it was proved that I had committed no treason crime at all. But in spite of that I got detained for almost five years without any further trial.”
He said the revered late Father Zimbabwe, as Nkomo was widely called, died a bitter man because all his proposals were being wilfully opposed by his Zanu PF colleagues.
“He was never happy. Throughout his service in government, Nkomo was never happy because he found himself working with people who could not accept his suggestions most of the time and whatever he tried to do was always brushed aside.
“He stayed on for so long mainly to keep peace. He feared a repeat of the Gukurahundi and so he had to make so many concessions,” Dabengwa said.
He burst into a wide grin, which surprisingly faded in an instant when asked about his late close friend and Zipra commander, Lookout Masuku.
Masuku, just like Dabengwa, was accused of treason in 1982.
He was kept in detention despite having been cleared by the courts and was denied medical attention, dying under heavy guard in a hospital ward in 1986.
Masuku was initially denied hero status despite being leader of the Zipra guerrilla army which stretched the Rhodesian army to the limit.
Dabengwa said Masuku repeatedly pleaded with police while on the deathbed to be allowed to say his last words to Dabengwa, but was never given the permission.
“We were very close. We went through the liberation struggle together. We were the first group to come in and we developed the Zipra army to what it became.
“I said it when I was released from detention that I had forgiven everyone who kept us in detention, but that I would not forget and that has been the case until today,” Dabengwa mournfully said.
At 78, he has remarkably done well to keep himself fit, but, like most of his fellow wartime comrades that no longer enjoy the abundance that comes with high office, his ageing body is now a pale shadow of the valiant military man so gloriously spoken of.
But the Black Russian, as Dabengwa was referred to during the war since he was trained in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, has evidently not lost his wit.
Having largely remained silent on his treason trial in 1982, his time in government and his relationship with Zanu PF ever since he purported to pull Zapu out of the 1987 Unity Accord in 2008, Dabengwa told the Daily News that he has no regrets for walking out on Zanu PF since it has dismally failed to deliver on the aspirations of the liberation struggle.
Dabengwa said Zimbabweans have hardly been able to realise most of the aspirations that they had when they fought against the Smith regime.
“To us, it looks like we merely replaced Smith with Mugabe and very little has been done towards achieving the main reasons why we went to war and that is in order to be able to get our independence and make sure that we improve the lives of our people.
“We are far from achieving that in spite of the rich natural resources we have in the country.” – Daily News