Home » Governance » No Tension Between Mphoko and Me – Dabengwa [interview]

I have never wanted to comment about his VP status.

WIDELY viewed as a political party which is now past its prime, ZAPU is adamant, it still has a lot to give the people of Zimbabwe. Dumiso Dabengwa (DD), ZAPU president spoke to the Financial Gazette’s Assistant Bureau Chief, Ray Ndlovu (RN) this week and bared his heart on the upcoming by-elections, his future in ZAPU and on the purported frosty relationship he has with Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko among other things. Below is an extract of the interview.

Why has ZAPU decided to participate in the by-elections when other opposition parties have boycotted?

The issue of the by-elections came as a surprise to us. We were not expecting them and in fact had hoped that the two feuding Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parties would have resolved their problems without losing seats in Parliament, but that was not the case. In fact, we actually appealed against the by-elections and went to court. Then the two MDCs made a decision not to participate. ZAPU is preparing for congress later this year and is going through a restructuring exercise and the leadership directed that provinces which felt confident enough to participate in the by-elections should feel free to participate. We gave the go ahead for those provinces that have solid structures and want to participate. The Bulawayo province felt gly enough to participate and so we gave them the green light to do so. We are, however, not going to abandon our demands for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to make available the voters’ roll and implement other electoral reforms.

What is different about these by-elections vis-agrave-vis past polls?

The difference is we have been able to gain ground as we are currently restructuring the party. We feel that we are in a position to participate in elections at both the provincial and national level.

Will you stand for party president at the upcoming party congress this year?

That is an issue for the party to decide. The party provinces will be asked to make nominations and only if there is a nomination for me, can I then be in the running for president. I still haven’t made up my mind on it yet and it depends on what the party says. In my current term though, I am very happy with the progress that the party is making and we have had new blood that is coming into our structures.

Is ZAPU trying to gain a foothold into Bulawayo, which for long has been dominated by the MDC-T?

The by-elections are mainly in Bulawayo and Harare. Bulawayo has only five constituencies being contested and Harare province has slightly more than that. In Harare, we felt we did not have enough confidence to go for the by-elections than in Bulawayo.

Do you view the recall of the former MDC-T MPs as an opportunity to test your support base after losing in 2013?

The fight really is going to be against ZANU-PF. There are a few independent candidates here and there, but the fight mainly will be between ZANU-PF and ZAPU.

Do you think the by-elections will be free and fair?

Well, not much has changed in the way things operate. Which is why we have gone to court to press for electoral reforms, but we do have confidence that our structures have what it takes to win the up-coming by-elections.

Mphoko has been quoted in the media speaking down on your liberation credentials and lately said you had “soiled” your record by leaving ZANU-PF. How do you respond to that?

I really don’t know what my colleague Mphoko is on about and I don’t want to comment. My first comment which I made on him was meant to correct the credentials he said he had. That was enough and deliberately I have never wanted to comment about his VP status. Some people took it wrongly that I was trying to tarnish his credentials. As a former Zipra commander it was my right to comment about his credentials and I had to make that correction.

Is there any tension between Mphoko and yourself?

None at all. A week ago I actually called him up over something I needed him to assist someone else with. There is absolutely no tension at all in our relationship.

How amenable is ZAPU to working with recently expelled ZANU-PF members such as Didymus Mutasa?

We have mentioned that we have been approached by those colleagues of ours. Our policy is on the formation of a united front whatever one may decide to call it is immaterial. They (Mutasa) need to sort themselves out first and have some structures in place so we know their interim leadership and so on. Only then, once they have done that can we then enter into meaningful discussions with them.

As a former senior ZANU-PF member, how do you view the occurrences of the past few months in the ruling party? Is it a party in trouble or simply undergoing normal political upheavals?

It reminds me a lot about the Chinese revolution and the purges that took place. They, in ZANU-PF probably know best what is going on. Being outside, I don’t know really. However, it was high time that ZANU-PF paid attention to their party that is the way they operate and do things. As for the manner in which they have done it well I don’t know if that was the correct way of doing things.


Source : Financial Gazette