Things must not ‘go back to normal’ after this week’s events in Harare, says ZAPU opposition party leader Dumiso Dabengwa. DW correspondent Victoria Schneider spoke to the former interior minister in Johannesburg.
Dumiso Dabengwa: Firstly, I am disappointed that Robert Mugabe was at a graduation ceremony today. That means the army has removed him from house arrest and he is back as head of state.
The [African Union leaders] will invite him and let him defend himself. They have already come out and said clearly that what the army did was a coup. He is going to come back and charge them with a treason trial. And the AU will be happy with that and say justice has been carried out.
Would you still speak of a coup?
I don’t believe it was a coup.
Are you saying that what happened during the last week has made no change?
I am saying he is going to consider it a coup, with the strength and the support of the other heads of state.
You have been here in Johannesburg since Sunday, November 12. What have you been doing?
I came to discuss my foundation and how I should proceed to have my legacy of nation established and then these developments came along. And colleagues asked: ‘please can you attend to this situation and tell our friends in the neighboring streets what happened, and people should stop referring to it as a coup.’
Are you going back to Zimbabwe?
Yes, I am going back.
In which position?
I am going as the leader of my party, ZAPU.
What can we expect now?
We will see tomorrow during the [planned] demonstration. The army certainly will not participate in that. We will see if the police is going to disrupt the demonstration. They [the war veterans’ association] are going to [Mugabe’s] house to demonstrate.
Let’s go back a bit. Why did this happen? What is going wrong and what needs to change?
What is going wrong is that Mugabe fires his vice president [Emmerson Mnangagwa], the same man who fired Joice Mujuru, his other vice president. And in doing so, he gets his wife to be supported by his party to become vice president of the party instead of Mnangagwa and then she would automatically become vice president of the country. And the next thing that could happen is that he collapses two days later, and this woman is the president of the country. That’s the scenario that you are looking at.
There are elections scheduled for next year. So if everything is going back to normal, do you think change will come with the elections?
Let’s see if it goes back to normal.
What role are you going to play in all this?
My own take is that we must never allow the situation to go back to normal. Mugabe must just vacate that position.
What about the talk about you becoming vice president if there is a new government?
Sure, I am capable – but if he agrees to step down, or if he was forced to step down. I don’t know, if the people force him to step down, what the AU and SADC are going to think. If people for instance tomorrow got there and forced him and told him ‘we don’t want you anymore – out!,’ I don’t know if they are going to refer to that as a coup as well.
Dumiso Dabengwa is the leader of the Zimbabwean opposition party Zimbabwean African People’s Union (ZAPU). He served as a Minister for Home Affairs under Mugabe from 1992 to 2000.