via Dabengwa wishes he was dead – DailyNews Live 27 October 2015
BULAWAYO – So despondent is liberation struggle icon Dumiso Dabengwa with the glaring lack of democracy and its benefits in post-independent Zimbabwe that he now often wishes he was dead, in which event he says he does not want to be buried at the National Heroes Acre.
Speaking to the Daily News in an exclusive interview at the weekend, the revered and softly-spoken war veteran — who walked out of Zanu PF in disgust in 2008 to revive Zapu — said he never once imagined that an independent Zimbabwe would plunge to its current sorry state.
The sad former senior Cabinet minister also bemoaned the “untenable” fact that President Robert Mugabe and his controversial wife Grace now behaved as if they owned the country, with the active encouragement of “dangerous and self-serving bootlickers”.
This is why he sometimes wished that he had died in place of some “very good comrades” who had long “departed” — as they may have been in a better position to stem the myriad political and economic crises that continue to batter the country.
It was also the reason why, in the event of his death, he would rather be buried at his rural home in Ntabazinduna, instead of the National Heroes Acre — a resting place he says was being used by Mugabe and the post-congress Zanu PF to settle personal and political scores “with the dead”. . . . says he does not want to be buried at Heroes Acre
“I am bitter on the issue of how the heroes’ status is now being adjudicated. The granting of hero status was made clear right at the beginning, that it is those people who had performed outstandingly in their contribution to the liberation struggle who would lie there.
“But when you leave out people who contributed so much to the liberation struggle, that boggles the mind,” the disconsolate Dabengwa — who has never been a rabble-rouser and usually shies away from the public spotlight, preferring to work quietly behind the scenes — said.
“I often think of the many colleagues who died in the trenches, who probably could have done better than me had they survived and that’s one thing that I always accuse myself of and say why am I still here to watch this chaos that is taking place in the country and be unable to do anything about it?
“What did people like Nikita Mangena and Josiah Tongogara die for? Are we as a country, as a people, fulfilling those values and ideals for which they sacrificed their lives?
“These are the things that pain me most to the extent that at times I ask myself why they left me behind. I should have also gone. Perhaps I could be better off then than remaining impotent and not be able to actually fulfil those ideals they died for,” Dabengwa added.
The conferment of national hero status has long been a thorny issue in the country, with opposition parties saying such conferment should not rest with Mugabe and Zanu PF if the national shrine is to be truly representative and meaningful to the majority of Zimbabweans.
Even Zanu PF critics of Mugabe accuse the frail nonagenarian of abusing his veto vote in the conferments to settle personal vendettas with people who would have disagreed with him, no matter how illustrious their contributions to the country were.
But in typical fashion, Mugabe has thumbed his nose at his critics, particularly those in the opposition, saying crudely that they must identify their own burial shrine.
Explaining his disgust further on the controversial choice of heroes and heroines by Mugabe, and why he would rather be buried in the lands of his forefathers in Ntabazinduna than at Heroes Acre, he said this would be the same as being laid to rest among “thieves and crooks”.
“I come from the rural area at Ntabazinduna. That’s where my roots are and my grandparents, my parents and relatives are buried there, and that’s where I will be buried.
“I don’t wish to be buried anywhere else. I want to join the rest of my family. If they bury me at the Heroes Acre, I will probably rise from the grave,” Dabengwa said.
He said even if he were to become president of the country, he would not consider being buried at the National Heroes Acre.
Pointing to revered fellow nationalists such as James Chikerema and the founding father of Zanu, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole —who were denied national hero status simply because they had fallen out with Mugabe — Dabengwa said the country’s history would never be complete without the proper mention of such people.
“When you overlook people like Chikerema and Sithole, you are not doing the history of this country any good. These are the people who started the liberation struggle.
“Of course, they made their mistakes later on, but their contribution cannot be disputed or wished away. Their contribution cannot also be rubbed out by the mistakes that they made at the end,” Dabengwa asserted.