Dumiso Dabengwa mum on political future

Source: Dumiso Dabengwa mum on political future | The Financial Gazette August 12, 2016

ALTHOUGH indications are that Dumiso Dabengwa might step down as ZAPU president when the party holds its elective congress in Bulawayo at the end of this month, the former liberation war commander is keeping his cards close to his chest.
Dabengwa’s speculated exit comes months after the party’s deputy president, Emilia Mukaratirwa, threw in the towel citing the party’s prolonged delay in holding its second congress as working against her conscience.
Mukaratirwa resigned early this year saying she could not continue serving beyond her term limit.
Despite chances of him being upstaged by other presidential hopefuls being very slim, the former ZIPRA intelligence supremo could spring a surprise by calling it quits, opting for younger blood to take over the reins of the party or teaming up with other parties to shore up their chances of making a mark in the 2018 elections.
Because the party constitution allows him to stand for another term in office, expectations within the party are that the elective congress would give him another five-year mandate to lead the party into the potentially explosive 2018 elections.
In the 2018 elections, which have every ingredient of turning out to be a cracker, Dabengwa might square off with his same old foes that include President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), Welshman Ncube of the smaller MDC faction and the country’s first woman presidential challenger, Joice Mujuru, now leading the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party. Others spoiling for an upset in the election are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader by Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma of the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe.
But so far Dabengwa is simply saying he will cross that bridge when he gets to it.
“I have never stood for re-election; it is the party members who nominate the people for positions. I will decide at congress what I will do,” he told the Financial Gazette recently.
Three senior party members, Strike Mkandla, Ralph Mguni and United Kingdom-based Thulani Nkala, have in the past indicated their intention to contest for the party’s top job.
The elective congress is set to run from August 24 to 26 at the Amphitheatre in Bulawayo.
Since Dabengwa and some ZAPU members broke ranks in August 2010 from a unity pact signed between ZAPU and ZANU in 1987, following six years of armed hostilities between the two former wartime allies, the party has, essentially, failed to shake the status quo. This was despite the breakaway having enabled Dabengwa to set up structures locally across the country, regionally in South Africa and internationally in UK and United States.
Dabengwa lost in the 2013 elections, trailing a distant fourth with less than 100 000 votes.
His party was also unable to clinch any parliamentary seats in Bulawayo.
Political observer, Discent Bajila, said it was foolhardy for anyone to rule out ZAPU on the grounds that it had not marshalled a win in the city as yet.
He said what is now of interest is that while ZAPU was one of the negotiators of the CODE of Democrats, but chose not to sign into the alliance, the party appears to be developing alliances with new kid on the block, ZPF.
“Now they have been seen offering solidarity at every ZPF rally. We are curious to know whether their congress will mandate the leadership to sign CODE or negotiate for a ZPF-ZAPU-PDP tripartite. The leadership composition is of less interest to us compared to the resolutions,” he said.
Another political commentator, Joseph Mlotshwa, said ZAPU should capitalise on its credentials of having participated in the country’s 1970s liberation war struggle.
“The liberation struggle represents huge political capital, as far as politics is concerned in post-colonial Africa. The mere fact that ZAPU and ZPF can morally contest ZANU-PF in terms of claims around the liberation struggle opens up politics in this country,” he said. “The relevance and importance of ZAPU, therefore, is that, from an opposition point of view, they keep politics open…”
As ZAPU’s next congress approaches sooner, rather than later, Dabengwa will have to show his hand.