HARARE – Our Bulawayo reporter Jeffrey Muvundusi spoke to Zapu president and former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa. Below are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: You had congress late last year where you were re-elected president. What plans do you have taking Zapu forward?
A: Since elected as president, the thrust has been to concentrate on the structures of the party going downwards from the provinces to the districts.
The task has been to verify the structures and to establish them where none existed. This is in as far as moving Zapu forward is concerned.
This exercise is on-going until the structures have been completed in all the provinces. Also emanating from congress is a resolution to sign the Coalition of Democrats (Code) Agreement, I have spent a good part of my time attending to issues pertaining to Code.
Q: With personal egos usually taking centre stage in coalition talks, do you think by the time we reach elections, opposition parties will have reached common ground to face Zanu PF as a united force.
A: We already have covered lots of ground in our coalition arrangement within Code and I believe by the end of this year, we will have gone over the most contentious issues which remain to be dealt with.
We haven’t experienced any ego-related problems and we do not anticipate them. Our principle beliefs run supreme.
Q: At one point, Zapu took part in the by-elections then later pulled out completely joining other opposition groups who have adopted a boycotting stance so as to push for electoral reforms, what’s your comment on that?
A: Zapu believes that there is no point of participating in any by-elections until such a time that the issue of electoral reforms has been satisfactorily resolved.
Currently, it is even questionable what voters’ rolls the Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) uses for holding the by-elections. The issue of the voters’ roll remains contentious.
Q: In your view, do you think the boycott by opposition parties has really paid dividends?
A: Not really, because some opposition parties have gone on to participate, confirmation of the popular belief that some opposition parties are fronts of the ruling party whose sole purpose is to legitimise a flawed electoral process in favour of Zanu PF.
Q: What do you make of the decision by the (President Robert) Mugabe government’s recent announcement that it will inject $17 million towards the procurement of the biometric voter registration (BVR) kits to be used in the compilation of a fresh voters’ roll for the 2018 harmonised elections?
A: As Code, we have already expressed our doubts as to Zec’s capability to conduct free and fair elections. First of all, coming out with a flawless voters’ roll and to this end we were surprised with government’s rescue gesture to provide Zec with funding for the purchase of BVR equipment.
We concluded that this was done in order to enable Zec to manipulate the production of a genuine voters’ roll and to minimise the influence of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the exercise of what Zec have requested of them.
Q: How is your relationship with other opposition leaders?
A: I have cordial relations with those that I have been meeting with, including even those who are not members of Code.
Our principles border around democracy and respect and protection of human rights and as such, my relationship with fellow opposition leaders is defined solely by those as chief determinants.
Q: The war veterans are ageing, their number is diminishing and do you think they still have an influence in the hectic and polarised politics of the country?
A: Although Zanu PF seems to have dumped most of the genuine war veterans, I believe they still have a role to play in as much as they had a role to play during the liberation struggle.
Proof is the Zanu PF succession battle which cannot be completed smoothly without the war veterans Mugabe kicked out of that party.
Q: How does your party view the land question in Zimbabwe?
A: We believe that there should be a serious and genuine audit of land distribution and Zapu also strongly believes that after that audit has been done it might be necessary to carry out another corrective redistribution of land. With all done, Zapu believes that we should be able to introduce some security of tenure or title which will empower those in the rural areas.
Q: Lastly, any word to president Mugabe?
A: It is unfortunate the old man lost a glorious time to retire and take a good rest before his end.
He is scared of retiring because of history of human rights violations stretching from the Gukurahundi genocide to Murambatsvina right up to total economic destruction.
So, now he seeks to establish a Mugabe dynasty to protect him, his legacy and his family from the law, should change take place while he is still alive.
Resistance to the dynasty from within Zanu PF and the greater Zimbabwe society now makes it impossible for him to retire.
Today, Mugabe is at the forefront inciting Africa to pull out of the International Criminal Court.
He is doing this for his own personal reasons, not for the good of a continent that has been at the mercy of ruthless leaders such as him.
His fear is to face justice for his dark human rights violations in the event he loses power, which is inevitable.
Such are the fears of a dictator whose hands drip of blood of innocent Zimbabweans from all facets of life.