Mugabe reneged on handing over power – Dabengwa

President Robert Mugabe, who has led his Zanu(pf) party for about four decades, promised to hand over party power in the early 1990s but later made a U-turn under unclear circumstances, one of his former lieutenants has said.

Dumiso Dabengwa
Dumiso Dabengwa

In an exclusive interview, Dumiso Dabengwa, a former Zanu (PF) Politburo member, told The Zimbabwean that influential members of the party whom he interacted with regularly had resigned themselves to the reality of Mugabe dying in office.

‘‘The truth is that people within Zanu (PF) have accepted the reality that they cannot do anything about succession in the party. The issue has become sacrosanct and no-one will come out and challenge him from within. Succession will never be debated openly.

‘‘Of course, different people hold different opinions about Mugabe’s continued stay in power, but what I have gathered is that the majority no longer want him there because they feel he has overstayed. The problem, though, is that they are too afraid to openly tell him,” Dabengwa said.

Dabengwa pulled out of Zanu (PF) to revive Zapu, a major liberation war movement that helped bring independence to Zimbabwe, in 2008 because of frustrations regarding Mugabe’s refusal to step down from his position in the party.

At that time, influential members of the party were reportedly gunning for leadership renewal as a strategy to effectively compete against Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.

‘‘There was a time… in the early 1990s, when Mugabe promised that he would talk about succession and hand over power saying it was up to the people in Zanu PFto steer the leadership renewal process. We then asked how it was supposed to be done but we faced resistance (from Mugabe),’’ Dabengwa, a former Home Affairs Minister, said.

Zanu (PF) has unanimously agreed that Mugabe will be its candidate in the next election which they have vowed should be held this year, with or without a new constitution that is currently being drafted.

Dabengwa said even though he now has his own party, he was pained to see Zanu (PF) continue to deteriorate and warned that if the succession issue was not urgently addressed, it would cause chaos in the party.

“One should be able to accept that he (Mugabe) is mortal and one day will be gone, so there is need to plan for that. These are the issues that l discuss with some of my colleagues in Zanu (PF),’’ said Dabengwa, who accused Zanu (PF) of failing to adapt to change.

“Zanu (PF) has been working like a liberation movement and we thought there was need to change that to suit the younger generation and accommodate them in the party. (At the time I left) the party was stagnant and we did not want that; we wanted it to move with the times and feared that there would be chaos in the party if we waited for certain things to happen,” added the former intelligence chief of old Zapu’s military wing, Zipra.

Zanu (PF) has blocked the debate on Mugabe’s succession, a situation that has led to sharp rifts as rival camps jostle clandestinely to take over from him.

Turning to the inclusive government, Dabengwa urged the GNU to implement the Global Political Agreement in order to prepare for free and fair elections.

He took a swipe at hardliners in Zanu (PF) and singled out Patrick Chinamasa whom he described as an opportunist.

He castigated the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs for recently predicting that there would be war in Zimbabwe at the next elections.

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