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Dumiso Dabengwa: A fad or paradox of the nationalist memory?

01 Jun 2019 at 06:44hrs | Views
Heroes are born out the willpower to reconstruct inequality to egalitarianism. True heroes define the course for the redemptive path to civilising and dignifying subjugated people. These are "men of the people" cast into being by circumstances which repress their countrymen from shaping their destiny beyond the horizon of oppression.

Heroes live beyond their lifetimes.

The nationalist generation abundantly provides us with many examples of such characters. Many of our nationalists surrendered the days of their youth to fight for democracy, the realignment of property rights and the restoration of the dignity of our people under colonial rule. Dr Dumiso Dabengwa belongs to this breed of patriots.

We celebrate him for placing value in the liberation and self-determination of our people. He is worth the honour after enduring guiltless incarceration for the 1982 disturbances, and yet he heed to the call to serve his country at the behest of the Unity Accord signed between Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe in 1987.

The priceless value of his willingness to serve a government born out of his sweat and toil after his persecution on baseless charges by the same regime is a mark of his outstanding level of patriotism. He was a giant patriot! The anecdote fad In Dr Dumiso Dabengwa we have lost an encyclopaedia of the liberation memory.

As Dabengwa settles into the celestial, a vast wealth of our history will go down with him. Sadly, his life story is not contained in a biography or an autobiography. What one can access are a few snippets of his interviews scarcely dotted on the Internet. In those interviews one only finds truths entrapped in partisan standpoints which are far much narrow than the nationalist ideology which Dabengwa epitomised.

I would not blame Dabengwa (the man) for not penning an autobiography. His aptitude to speak truth to power was limited under the repressive arms of the First Republic.

It only took individuals like Edgar Tekere, Joshua Nkomo, Cephas Msipa and Wilfred Mhanda among others to produce memoirs which provided a critical position on the establishment. However, it could have been impossible for Dabengwa to do the same considering that he had a direct experience of the state's fixation to crushing dissent. After all, he lost his dear counterpart Commander Lookout Masuku to the brutality of the state.

On the basis of these assumptions, Dabengwa can be exonerated for not leaving us with a memoir for future generations to reflect on the legacy of the nationalist movement through the lens of his contribution to our freedom. Perhaps, his life story could have exposed some critical accounts of what landed us to the "pitfalls of national consciousness". It is obvious that this could have been some evil truth to the old system.

De-puzzling the puzzle Now it is the obligation of those who had direct access to the "Black-Russian" to serve Zimbabweans with a biography of the late revolutionary's story. His encounters with the Smith regime, how he rose to the occasion to be on the nationalist front must be well articulated. His story (to be penned) must accurately entail his victimhood to early post-independence hegemony.

His far-sighted ability to dictate the inadequacies of the First-Republic which were only realised many years later and thus giving birth to the civil-military led Operation Restore Legacy must be shared for all to know.

The story of his life must not by any chance omit the magnitude of his support for the transitional path to the conception of the Second Republic. Dabengwa's name is mentioned among those who made Operation Restore Legacy a success.

This clearly exposes his distant and yet so close presence to the mother nationalist movement — ZANU-PF. This fact presents a haze of protagonist contradiction around his interaction with Zimbabwe's contemporary politics.

This is because in 2008, he was the same man who had endorsed Simba Makoni's presidential candidature against the former President, Robert Mugabe. In the 2018 election he tried propping the relevance of his party, ZAPU by aligning it to the MDC-Alliance. It is a known fact that his party had thin popularity across the country even in Matebeleland, where it had assumed a pro-regional propensity centred on the gukurahundi narrative and an elusive creation of a new state.

Ideally, this is the position that ZAPU may still stagger to engage the national question, but the pace of political reform under the Second-Republic may not permit rhetoric relics of dismembering the nation on region terms to flourish. ZAPU Beyond Dabengwa

However, now that Dabengwa —the face of ZAPU's prominence is no more; does this mean that ZAPU will be buried with him? Will Dabengwa's successor have the magnitude of popularity enjoyed by his predecessor in our national politics?

The rebirth of ZAPU under Dumiso Dabengwa when he left ZANU-PF could have been a result of the then existing contradictions of the nationalist branch our politics — to which ZANU-PF was and is still a vanguard. The ZAPU of Dabengwa, which was projecting the renaissance of the-PF-ZAPU was a product of internal conflicts and absurdities within ZANU-PF.

His departure from ZANU-PF could be contextualised as a desperate protest for the party to reclaim its position to the founding principles which were slowly fading into oblivion. These contradictions were later exposed by the rise of factionalism in ZANU-PF. The effects of this toxic divide in ZANU-PF was then cured in November 2017.

As such, the Dabengwa-led ZAPU was born out of the frustrations of a nationalist who failed to find accommodation in the overturning events of a nationalist ideological crisis.

Dabengwa's futile hope for the full realisation of the liberation values under the Mugabe regime conceived the need for an alternative in the form of the new political party. Hence, the birth of ZAPU. Now that a new dimension to reform has been born under the Second Republic does this mean that ZAPU will continue to exist as an entity that represents the contradictions of the nationalist movement under the First Republic? Will today's ZAPU represent itself as a relic of the old Nkomo-led ZAPU, whose values are enshrined in the Unity Accord?

One wonders if the same Unity Accord has not reincarnated itself through the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) in the Second Republic. The future is born Dabengwa leaves behind a united organ of the war veterans under the banner of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZLWA).

Today, former ZIPRA and ZANLA cadres are working together as custodians of the liberation legacy. The unity of these liberation wings could not be achieved in the early independence days. In the same vein, the nationalist movement must reinstate itself into the future by healing the nation and uniting our people out of toxic pasts and memories of hate.

This is the only way we could compensate the contributions of founding fathers of the nation like Dumiso Dabengwa. The footing they set for the present is bigger than the marginalities we create from our narrow contradictions. In respect to the illustrious sons and daughters of the soil slowly departing from our sight we must rally towards "One Aim" and "One Destiny".

Richard Mahomva is a political-scientist with avid interest in classic and modern political theory. He also has a distinct passion around the architecture of governance in Africa and is a literary aficionado.

Source - the herald
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