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Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa's Plumtree speech - Full text

by Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa, ZAPU President
30 Jul 2016 at 23:13hrs | Views
Speaking notes: ZAPU meeting for Bulilima Districts, Plumtree, Matebeleland South
 30 July 2016

Comrades and Friends
Distinguished Guests

For those who may not be aware, this is one of a series of meetings in various localities as in different provinces as we prepare for our Congress taking place 25-27 August 2016, just a few weeks away. This work will go on after the congress. ZAPU will be ready to play its part as the country undergoes an inevitable transition from the stranglehold of the virtually single-party rule that has brought us to the current economic and political crisis.

Hardship hitting the area
Bulilima is a low-rainfall area but has great potential for irrigated agriculture. Even livestock has suffered from erratic rains and occasional droughts. These agro-ecological challenges have been exacerbated by the current economic and political crisis affecting the whole country. The two Bulilima districts and Mangwe have thus carried more than their share of hardship because investments that would have improved the conditions have not been made. Youth migration mostly to Botswana and South Africa has been a strong feature of life after independence, as many youths crossed borders for survival and to support families. As if this was not enough, politically-induced terror in the 1980s (Gukurahundi massacres of over 20,000 unarmed civilians in Matebeleland and the Midlands) drove many into virtual exile from where they have yet to return. Today we are therefore in a meeting where I do not need to explain the disastrous consequences of living under a repressive and discriminatory regime that subjects whole communities and innocent people to a reign of terror on ethnic grounds dressed up as maintenance of "law and order".

Last week in a meeting in Johannesburg I commended Zimbabweans for being hard and efficient workers. This has not prevented them from being dubbed "litter" on account of being numerous "guest workers". They do not deserve this because, as I said then, our country is rich in mineral resources, arable land, natural resources (e.g. timber) and wildlife among others. We have a very literate and hard-working population and a developed infrastructure that was an advantage when we got independence.

By the way, the border areas which include Plumtree are important gateways for imports and exports, yet there is not much to show for the revenue generated through this economic activity. These areas need to have a bigger slice of the resources coming from trade and transit and not to reap just the inevitable negative impacts.  
 
ZANU-PF ethnic disdain for Khalanga speakers
President Robert Mugabe was heard last year to say that Khalangas are not educated. That happens to be untrue and if there is a trend towards declining standards in Khalanga areas this decline would lie squarely at the doorstep of ZANU-PF decimation of the economy and marginalization that was cloaked as coming from "insecurity" yet it was an engineered plot to crush Dr. Joshua Nkomo and ZAPU through violence.

For the well-known record, the areas inhabited by Khalanga speakers are among those that pioneered Western education. You may recall that Empandeni Mission was established in 1870 on land allocated to the Catholic Church by King Lobhengula. It was one of the first three mission schools in what is now Zimbabwe, with the older Inyathi (given by Mzilikazi in 1859) and alongside Hope Fountain (1870 also). This area also has an old secondary school (Tegwane Mission from which some comrades here got education), other educational establishments like Embakwe and Domdodema that boast many professionals. Government schools that were zoned on racial lines have also taken in children from these districts. The problem is therefore not sheer education but discrimination from government-run establishments which are not ashamed to leave out locals, sometimes even for menial jobs. For lack of a better way to put it, this is a recipe for trouble in future. Academics, business, political and outstanding cadres who are respected outside their own country cannot be expected to live their lives as foreigners.

ZANU-PF implosion and succession crisis can degenerate into disorder
Economic and social problems bedeviling the country and impacting on Plumtree have been touched on already. The conditions are going from bad to worse, but what is more ominous is the deteriorating political stability of the country as President Mugabe senses challenges from every bush in his party. In my statement to our party meeting held in Avoca in Insiza South District on 25 June this year I compared the repressive behavior to a double-edged razor blade that cuts both ways.  I said many in the ruling party were shocked at the violence threatened on war veterans who had been foot-soldiers of the regime but were now questioning some trends and actions. We can go further now to liken the ZANU-PF president's behavior to a slippery razor blade that is poised to make even more arbitrary cuts on all and sundry for personal survival. There is a resounding failure in the President's failure to separate personal, party and national roles.

What can we do? Even at this late hour we should continue to implore the ruling party and its leader: "Don't die with the country; let your party go through its crisis and not take down country with it. Manage internal transition without involving state power". That is a minimum remedy for averting a collapse of our systems by respecting the rule of law within and without the political establishment. There is need to stop threats bordering on illegal measures and infringement of civil liberties directed at war veterans. (Ab)use of the legal system to settle political scores, and unrestrained ZANU-PF youth threats of violence on perceived opponents can end up in disrespect for the law and dispute resolution channels. This is more-so because these threats to civil liberties come on top of unexplained disappearances of political activists like Itai Dzamara, while there is increasing (mis)use of force to deal with peaceful demonstrations. More impunity may have unpredictable consequences as the public despairs that they can get any protection from state institutions.

One thing we have learnt from the present crisis of governance in the country is to distrust those who claim to stand for the interests of "the people". On the contrary, the hallmark of the present regime is its inability to review past mistakes and gross misconduct so as to take corrective action.
 
Opposition unity imperative
It has become obvious that opposition parties have a duty to close ranks and to face the ruling party as a formidable force in the elections due in 2018. Since the situation is so fluid, that unity of the opposition might be needed earlier. Our position is that parties should get together on the basis of equality and avoid the "big brother" mentality that has stood in the way of previous efforts to forge a common front. There are promising signs that agreement can be reached, building on experience gathered in previous efforts. When we get clearance from our congress next month (25-27 August 2016) we shall have authority to commit ourselves to the united front in line with standing party policy.   

ZAPU Congress next month
Since ZAPU regained its autonomous existence in 2010 after forcible incorporation into ZANU to stop the Gukurahundi massacres, the party has faced hardship because its properties were taken over.

Our hardship has reinforced our determination to survive without compromising our values and original purpose as a movement. As I said last week, we still think that the choices of our people should not be compromised because of leaders who may be willing to mortgage the country for personal power and expensive life-styles they cannot afford without donor money. By the same token, we are happy that we are not dependent on corruptly-procured money gotten from rent-seeking behavior (i.e. who mange national resources to derive inexplicable riches that cannot be credibly linked to their salaries and business ventures).
 
You must play your part by ensuring that your delegations from branches, districts and provincial level are ready to come for the 8th Congress next month.

ZAPU platform for future government
Our 2013 manifesto, a progression from our previous commitment to deepen democracy and accountability, puts a lot of emphasis on devolution of power. This is to ensure that any government in which we take part must put the needs and priorities of communities and different parts of the country above those of monolithic power and mysterious policies not grounded in solving common problems as felt by our people. There must be tangible benefits derived from local resources. As I said before, there must be equal rights to economic and social development, entailing employment for youth and reduced need for migration and emigration

Thank you for standing tall before and after independence. Principled ZAPU leaders like Comrade T.G. Silundika hailed from here, as well as many illustrious Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) comrades who stood the test of time. The sacrifices and contributions of this area should not be in vain. I am committing ZAPU to see through what we started and suffered for together, a vision of a country in which all enjoy equal rights and protection of the state.


Source - Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa, ZAPU President
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