Zapu’s congress took off in Bulawayo Friday without incident despite threats of disruption by rivals and a court order barring interim leader Dumiso Dabengwa from using the party’s name, logo and symbols.
The High Court application by the Agrippa Madlela-led Zapu accuses Dabengwa of setting up parallel structures.
Yesterday’s congress, held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Grounds under the theme, Democracy and Freedom through Devolution of Power, passed without incident.
The US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, and other diplomats attended yesterday’s official opening of the congress.
Addressing the gathering, Dabengwa said since the last special congress held in 2008, the issue of dual presidency was one of the outstanding matters.
“The interim executive committee fulfilled all the resolutions passed at the eighth Zapu congress in 2008 except for two issues which have to do with the inventory of Zapu properties, which is still being prepared, and the issue of the dual status of the party president or chairperson,” he said.
Dabengwa said most Zapu supporters were against presidency as it vests excessive powers in one person.
“Some of the delegates were against the notion of dual presidency; whereby a party president also becomes a country president or holds a Cabinet position, as that would be entrusting too much power in one person,’’ he told the delegates.
“Being a party president is considered a full-time position. The elimination of dual presidency deals with issues of conflict of interest and it separates party issues from government issues. We have all seen in practice what happens in such a scenario,” said Dabengwa.
At the end of the congress, delegates are expected to elect a substantive leadership of the national executive committee and the national council.
“We are holding a congress in an independent Zimbabwe for the first time with pride and joy and we have gone out of our way to mobilise people so that Zapu forms the new government in Zimbabwe because it is a party that is being led by mature leaders,” he said.
Dabengwa said the party congress is the highest authority in the party and it would adopt the new constitution.
“This congress will also address issues such as the adoption of the new constitution, reviewing the party’s ideological programme, its policy documents and the party’s manifesto,” he said.
The congress was also attended by the party’s regional and international delegates from Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia.
The congress ends tomorrow.