Drama as ZAPU refuses to use National Flag to cover Dabengwa’s coffin: Video.
There was controversy yesterday after ZAPU refused to drape the coffin of the late National Hero Dumiso Dabengwa in the national flag. ZAPU opted to use their own flag instead arguing that the national flag was synonymous with the massacre of thousands of people during the Gukurahundi era.
Dr Dabengwa was born in Umguza district in Matabeleland North in 1939. He wrote his Junior Certificate at Kutama Mission in Mashonaland West and completed secondary education at Tegwane Mission, now Thekwane High School in Bulilima District, about 12km out of Plumtree Town. He taught at Cyrene Mission for a year before joining the Rhodesia Railway company and later worked with local bank in Bulawayo. Dabengwa started his political activism in the late 1950s when he was still in secondary school where his father used to work.
He engaged in political activism together with the late former Vice President Joseph Msika who was the youth leader in the African National Congress (ANC). In that period he also became active in the Zhanda political group with the likes of Jason Ziyapapa Moyo.
Dr Dabengwa became one of the young youth militant group leaders in political activism in Zhanda Youth League that swept across the country in the campaign and agitation for freedom of the black majority against colonial rule.
Sabotage operations along defiance to Rhodesia impunity law enforcement had continued in the derailment and threat to Rhodesia entertainment, loot on resources, racial discrimination and labour exploitation that signalled a pending war.
A number of sabotage missions were carried out during this period including the bombing of the railway lines as well as the Tredgold building in Bulawayo and other installations in farming area. The hunt for his arrest with key activists listed by Rhodesia security operatives made them leave the country to go to Zambia to prepare the launch of the armed struggle.
In February 1964 ZAPU decided to send out part of its national executive, consisting of James Chikerema, George Bodzo Nyandoro, the national secretary, Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, the national treasurer, George Silundika, the national secretary for publicity, and Edward Ndlovu, the deputy national secretary to Zambia to organise the struggle, as part of the External Liaison Committee (ELC).
In 1963 Dabengwa became one of the first cadres to be sent to the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republic with Akim Ndlovu, Ethan Dube, Edward Bhebhe, Gideon Ngoshi, Joseph Nyandoro, Ambrose Mutinhiri, Jabulani Ncube and Robson Manyika, for military training.
In the Soviet Union he had specialised in intelligence. When he returned to Zambia after his military training in 1965, Dabengwa was in the forefront of setting up ZAPU’s military wing, the Department of Special Affairs. Some Zimbabweans who were based in Zambia at the time were voluntarily recruited to join the liberation struggle.
During the early 1950s a lot of Zimbabwean had settled in Zambia under the permitting federation rules.
Some of the prominent cadres who were recruited at that time were current president Emmerson Mnangagwa and former ZPRA member of the High Command, the late Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Eddie “Sigoge” Mlotshwa.
Dabengwa became a key figure in the formation of an alliance between the Department of Special Affairs and the ANC`s military wing, Umkhonto WeSizwe (MK) in drawing up the grand impeccable Alliance Pact.
He was one of the strategists in the successful execution of the joint operation of the famous 1967 Wankie Campaigns. Dabengwa was directly involved in assisting Umkhonto WeSizwe cadres to cross into the country enroute to South Africa after Zimbabwe independence up to 1994.
In 1968 Dabengwa entered Rhodesia escorting the Luthuli detachment unit with ZPRA for the 1968 Sipolilo Campaigns with Joe Modise commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe(MK).
He also carried out secret reconnaissance and intelligence gathering in Botswana strategic installations. Information gathered included also from military bases, airports and established a strong intelligence gathering network. By then he was deputy to Ethan Dube and they opened more flow of undercover operations shared by MK and ZPRA military operations command.
Dabengwa was also instrumental in the setting up of recruitment centres in Botswana which were disguised as refugee centres. The alliance between ZAPU and MK would remain intact until the end of Zimbabwe liberation struggle and beyond up to 1994.
He took over as intelligence chief when Ethan Dube was captured in 1974. He also helped set up the The Joint Military Command in Mbeya, Tanzania in 1974, an initiative with intent to engage Rhodesia forces as ZPRA and ZANLA.
The JMC gave birth to the formation of ZIPA in 1976 in Mozambique. It will be recalled that extensive reconnaissance had been undertaken in the Tete Mozambique border area with Zimbabwe where FRELIMO allowed ZPRA to penetrate inland Rhodesia through Tete. Rex Nhongo, was named the ZIPA commander and was deputised by Alfred ‘Nikita’ Mangena.
In 1978 ZIPRA set up the National Security and Order (NSO) was an Intelligence Department and Dabengwa was the Secretary for Security. Due to his special skill in war strategies and intelligence, Dabengwa soon became the most sought-after leader by the Rhodesian undercover forces. A massive manhunt was launched to locate and capture him.
The Rhodesian forces bombed the NSO operations headquarters offices in Roma Township, Lusaka, in 1978 where they claimed the lives of 13 cadres and picked up Dabengwa’s passport. During the lancaster house talks Dabengwa was the ZIPRA’s defence representative while the late Josiah Tongogara represented the ZANLA forces.
Dabengwa was imprisoned in 1982 following the arms caches on ZAPU properties alongside colleagues, the late General Lookout Masuku, the late national hero Swazini Ndlovu, Retired Colonel Masala Sibanda, the late Tshaka Moyo , Nicholas Gilbert Nkomo and Velaphi Ncube.
Dabengwa remained detained in prison until 1986 . He re-joined politics in 1987 following the Unity Accord between PF-ZAPU and ZANU PF. In 1989, Dabengwa with fellow commanders of ZPRA formed the Mafela Trust to research and document the liberation armed struggle history.
After serving two years as Deputy Home Affairs Minister, Dr Dabengwa was elevated to be the Minister in the same portfolio and held the position for two terms. He is survived by his wife Zodwa, five children and five grandchildren.
Dr Dumiso Dabengwa died on Thursday last week in Nairobi, Kenya, while coming back home from India where he had gone for treatment for a liver ailment. He was 79. Dr. Dabengwa was declared a national hero and will be buried at his family home in Ntabazinduna on Saturday, 1 June, 2019. May his soul rest in peace.
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