Tshinga Dube: Courage of one’s convictions

Source: Tshinga Dube: Courage of one’s convictions – DailyNews Live

Mugove Tafirenyika      2 July 2017

HARARE – The ruling Zanu PF party’s behaviour has often been likened to
that of baboons, which fight over food, but close ranks whenever there is

Another distinctive characteristic of the ruling party is that while it
prides itself on being a democratic formation, it brooks no dissent within
its rank and file.

There are so many examples to illustrate the latter.

Perhaps the most familiar was that of Dzikamai Mavhaire, who was summarily
dismissed from Zanu PF in 1997 for calling on President Robert Mugabe to
resign during debate in Parliament.

Years later, Mavhaire was re-admitted into the party, having undergone
“rehabilitation”, only to be fired for the second time in 2014, for
allegedly aiding and abetting former vice president Joice Mujuru’s alleged
plan to unseat Mugabe using unconstitutional means.

There is now an unwritten rule in Zanu PF to the effect that talk about
succeeding Mugabe is considered anathema.

Nonetheless, it is the most topical issue at the moment only that it is
being discussed in some dark corners, far from eavesdroppers.

Still, there are a few Zanu PF cadres with the courage of their
convictions that do not mind getting punished for speaking out their

History records luminaries such as Edgar Tekere, now late, and general
Solomon Mujuru, also late.

There is also something history should never miss about successive
ministers of Welfare Services for War Veterans that makes them go where
others dare not tread.

To some in and outside Zanu PF, the case of War Veterans’ minister Tshinga
Dube, and his predecessor, Christopher Mutsvangwa, are classic cases of
the demonstration of rare courage in Zanu PF. Not many have been as daring
as Dube and Mutsvangwa who have earned their stripes for being among the
few who dared tread where angels hide.

As War Veterans minister, Mutsvangwa openly declared last year that the
former freedom fighters preferred Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to
take over from Mugabe, now 93, when talk about the Zanu PF leader leaving
office had been declared a shut case.

Before his controversial remarks, former freedom fighters had issued a
stinging communique in Harare, denigrating Mugabe’s leadership. A few of
them were arrested for undermining Mugabe’s authority and are currently
out on bail.

The war veterans had also tried to meet with Mugabe to air their
grievances, but were displaced by heavily armed police from an open space
where they had gathered, just outside Harare’s central business district,
through the use of force, and tear smoke.

For his role in organising the unsanctioned meeting, Mutsvangwa earned
himself marching orders from both government and Zanu PF, but remained
chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
(ZNLWVA). His chairperson’s position had come under threat from a rival
grouping led by Mandi Chimene, the Provincial Affairs minister for
Manicaland, but Mutsvangwa survived after a court delegitimised the other

His successor at the War Veterans ministry, Dube, also threw caution to
the wind about a week ago by backing the war veterans in their calls for
Mugabe to appoint a successor. His remarks stoked a backlash from a
section of the former liberation war fighters, led by Chimene and George
Mlala, who now want Dube fired from his position in Cabinet.

They declared that Dube should not have a place in Mugabe’s government but
left the decision to fire him to the appointing authority.

“Cde Dube, senior as he is, should understand the Zanu PF constitution
which says the party president is elected by not less than six provinces
and according to our constitution we will go for congress in 2019,” said

“There is nowhere in the constitution where it says the President should
appoint a successor as Dube is now saying…”

Dube has not been without backers. He is enjoying the support of ZNLWVA,
ironically led by Mutsvangwa. The State media, which often lampoons
Mugabe’s critics, has also been uncharacteristically quiet, implying “he
is their man”.

The security sector, which came out guns blazing against Jonathan Moyo and
other critics of the Command Agriculture programme, has also not said
anything about Dube’s remarks.

And on Tuesday, after a Cabinet meeting, Mugabe had a tete-a-tete with
him, making it clear to Dube that the selection of a successor was the
prerogative of congress, held once in every five years.

Dube was to later convene a press conference at which he humbled himself
before his commander-in-chief, Mugabe.

Many are, however, still wondering where Dube got the guts from and if
Mugabe will punish Dube for his remarks.

But it should be realised that both him and Mutsvangwa were cut from the
same cloth of the country’s liberation war stalwarts.

Political analysts, Eldred Masunungure, said what Dube did was clearly
unprecedented and it suggests that he does not see himself as dependent on
the job he has.

“It is a taboo subject that is now being brought to the public domain,” he
said. “He is releasing the cat among the pigeons. This is like a breath of
fresh air that you have someone who can stand up and make pronouncements
about the need to discuss the issue. We know that factionalism in Zanu PF
is triggered by that issue, I don’t know how the prince will take it but
many in Zanu PF are celebrating. What is lefty now is to see whether he is
going to be punished,” he added.

Born Tshinga Judge Dube on July 3, 1941 was a leader of Zapu’s military
wing Zipra during war for independence and is one of Mugabe’s favourites
as evidenced by the tasks he was given after retiring from the army.

Former Zipra intelligence supremo, Dumiso Dabengwa, who was also a Cabinet
minister and Zanu PF politburo member told the Daily News last week that
Dube was never active as a politician pre-independence.

“What we know about him is that he was in the Zipra military wing but
never held a post in the Zapu political structures as he was always in the
military even after independence where he worked for the Zimbabwe Defence
Industries (ZDI) before he became a member of the Zanu PF central
committee,” Dabengwa said.

Dube who has since developed into a polished politician, being the Member
of Parliament for Makokoba, is a man whose life is a microcosm of some of
the trials and tribulations that Zimbabwe has gone through both pre and

Apart from being in the thick of things when the guerrilla war was
executed to dethrone the ruthless Ian Douglas Smith regime, Dube also
leapt into a new era when the once warring Zipra, Zanla and the Rhodesian
armies were integrated into one formidable force, the Zimbabwe National

In the military, he was director of signals before retiring and joining
the ministry of Defence as a deputy secretary and director of research and

Asked during an interview with a local daily when he intended to retire,
Dube said:”I always joke with my colleagues saying while I might appear to
be too old to work, I am actually too poor to quit.

“It is unfortunate that I, along with some of my colleagues in both
government and the private sector, started work late because we had to
take up arms to free Zimbabwe from the clutches of colonialism. I am happy
that we managed to achieve the ideals of our liberation struggle and have
gone on to participate in rebuilding our economy as an independent people.
But after 30 years of hard work, it is not going to be long before I
retreat to my farm to concentrate on writing my memoirs”.

Dube became MP for Makokoba in June 2015.

Before his appointment to head the ministry in March 2016, Dube had been
deputy to Mutsvangwa since September 2015.

The Makokoba legislator had also served previously as a Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC) board member for eight years and deputy
board chairperson of TelOne for seven years.

Dube holds an MSc in Electro-Tech from MADI Institute of Technology in
Moscow and has once been an advisory board member to the secretary-general
of the United Nations (UN) on disarmament.

He can also recount the economic revulsions of the 1990s that inspired the
introduction of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme; the
impatience that followed after Britain refused to fund Zimbabwe’s land
reforms despite having pledged to do so at Lancaster, culminating in the
2000 land reforms.

Above all, he is also a successful farmer and businessman who, despite his
many achievements remains humble and loyal to his beliefs and

He is credited for organising a music concert ahead of the Makokoba
by-election that featured popular South African musician Freddie Gwala and
Platform One.

One of the lows of his political career though is when in July 2015; Dube
struggled to read his prepared maiden speech in Parliament and was forced
to sit down after his extended time ran out.