HARARE – Opposition leaders seeking to challenge President Robert Mugabe in next year’s crunch elections are falling over each other to partner Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa, pictured, it has emerged.
The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC Alliance is keen to bring on board Dabengwa, a former Zipra intelligence supremo, into the opposition alliance.
Former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her People’s Rainbow Alliance is also making efforts to rope in Dabengwa, who is a member of the Elton Mangoma-led Coalition of Democrats (Code).
Zapu spokesperson Mjobisa Noko confirmed the development, saying Mujuru, now opposition National People’s Party (NPP) leader, had offered Dabengwa the chairperson post in the coalition she leads.
“It is very true that many leaders have approached the Zapu president to join their outfits but Zapu has recommended that Dabengwa should neither accept nor reject the offers because we want that to be done through Code,” Noko said.
“The president has been offered by Mujuru to become the chairperson of her coalition but that post has not been taken up.
“There has, however, not been formal engagements with the MDC Alliance but on our part as Zapu, we have mandated Dabengwa to engage everyone on the need for a grand coalition and I must also add that Code has also given him that mandate.”
MDC Alliance spokesperson Welshman Ncube said while their coalition was signed in the absence of Zapu, “after they initially appeared to be unwilling,” negotiations to engage Dabengwa have been ongoing.
“At that time, it was unfortunate that the negotiations prior to the signing of the Alliance did not bring positive results but because we have always wanted to broaden the Alliance, our negotiators have continued to engage all to explore the possibility of making it broader than it is now,” Ncube said.
Nicknamed Black Russian during the liberation struggle, Dabengwa, is a former Cabinet minister who quit Zanu PF ahead of the 2008 elections frustrated by Mugabe’s refusal to retire.
Informed sources have also said a Zanu PF faction linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is also keen to
rope in Dabengwa, and the talks are reportedly being led by war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa.
Sources said Mnangagwa — who notwithstanding that he is currently under the cosh from a rival Generation 40 faction opposed to his alleged ambitions to succeed Mugabe — has offered Dabengwa a leadership role in a “new government”.
Mnangagwa has been accused by rivals in the ruling Zanu PF party of plotting to oust Mugabe — a charge he denies.
A senior Zapu official told the Daily News that Mnangagwa last month dispatched emissaries to engage Dabengwa.
“They told him that they want him to represent Matabeleland region as vice president in the post-Mugabe era but the sticking point has been that Dabengwa wants Mnangagwa to first recognise that the (1987) Unity Accord between Zapu and Zanu is no more and that Zapu properties confiscated by government should be returned,” said the source speaking on condition of anonymity. – Daily News