As Zimbabwe marks Uhuru tomorrow, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa says he does not feel sorry for disgruntled war veterans — many of whom he says have hands “dripping with the blood” of many innocent people.
He also charged that the ex-combatants had allegedly connived with the British government to rig the fiercely-contested 1980 elections in favour of Mugabe and the ruling party.
Dabengwa spoke in the wake of a widening chasm between Mugabe and war veterans — particularly those rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations — as Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars continue to escalate.
War vets met with Mugabe in Harare in a desperate bid to mend fences at a much-hyped get-together that Zanu PF insiders have since said achieved “very little” by way of mitigating the former liberation movement’s seemingly unstoppable bloodletting.
Dabengwa said emphatically that he did not have much sympathy for his erstwhile comrades as they were allegedly only “squealing now” because their own interests and welfare continued to be neglected by Mugabe and Zanu PF.
In addition, he said, the UK’s Conservative party, had allegedly connived with local whites to award the 1980 poll to Zanu PF in a misguided strategy to “reward and look after a party” that they thought would safeguard their interests best — with Zanla war veterans allegedly actively taking part in the rigging, and continuing to do so in subsequent elections.
Zapu won 20 seats against Zanu PF’s 57 in that maiden election that was mid-wifed and supervised by the British government.
Dabengwa made the comments while responding to questions about his views on the recently published book In Pursuit Of Freedom and Justice that was penned by retired and much-respected Zanu PF elder Cephas Msipa.
“It’s a book that I would like to recommend to all the people who would like to know more about the history of our politics in Zimbabwe,” he said without any equivocation, adding that Msipa was very “knowledgeable” about the country’s troubled history.
“Msipa relates what happened during the elections and clearly spells out what happened when Zanla created no-go areas in the eastern districts of the country and made sure that no other political party was allowed to campaign during the elections.
“That is what gave Mugabe a victory that Zanu got during the 1980 elections and this is why the war veterans even at the recent meeting which they had with the president were able to tell him clearly that they were the vanguard of the party because it is them who put Zanu into power,” Dabengwa added.
“Those guaranteed votes in those eastern districts where Zanu PF was completely uncontested gave Zanu the victory and this is why they (war veterans) say it is them who gave victory to Mugabe”.
Dabengwa also said Mugabe’s recent rants that securocrats and war veterans should not interfere with the ruling party’s political processes were hypocritical and self-serving, considering that war veterans had been “at the forefront of campaigning for him and Zanu PF, often violently, all these years”.
“I don’t feel sorry for the war vets now that they have stated their case. They have stated that they are the people that made him (Mugabe) what he is today and they can’t understand why he is doing what he is doing to them.
“They are saying (to Mugabe) you are telling us not to interfere in the affairs of the party, yet it is us who are the kingmakers. It is us who decide and who have been deciding whether you win an election or not all along. So, who are the good guys here?” he asked rhetorically.
Dabengwa — who was for a long time a senior Zanu PF official following the since disbanded merger of Zanu and Zapu in 1987 — also corroborated the recent assertions by Msipa that Zanu PF was a very violent party.
“Since 1980 they (Zanu PF) have been using the same tactic. They will do everything possible to destroy their opponents. They use all sorts of dirty tactics violence and intimidation.
They think to win an election they need to use force,” Msipa told the Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News recently.
“From that time (1980), Zanu PF got the impression which they have used all along that violence and intimidation pay dividends. Zanu PF learnt a lesson that this is the way to win an election. They have used that method since that time until 2013 when it then acquired a new tactic of using voter-rigging.
“All those years up to 2013, it is the war veterans in Zanla who have been responsible for Zanu’s pyrrhic victory in elections,” Dabengwa chipped in.
He also disputed very strongly reported claims by the British in 1980 that Zimbabweans had voted along ethnic lines in that year’s plebiscite.
“People did not vote tribally in 1980 as the British wanted to conclude. People voted because they were intimidated and they were told that anyone who did not vote for Zanu PF would be dealt with severely and all the things which had happened during the war will happen to them.
“The whole issue was raised with Lord Soames who was governor then, who even said I am sorry to (then Zapu leader Joshua) Nkomo, and revealed that while he had made it a point as previously agreed that the votes from those districts would not be counted, he said was over-ruled by Westminster powers who ordered that all the votes be counted,” Dabengwa asserted.
He reiterated that the British had allegedly been “in charge of rigging while the war veterans were in charge of making sure that certain parts of the country were no go areas for Mugabe’s opponents”.
“The British rigged the elections. They were the ones who were in charge. The war veterans made certain that in the eastern districts, no other party was allowed to go and contest,” he said. daily news