Former Zipra intelligence supremo and now leader of Zapu, Dumiso Dabengwa, told a former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe that he was asked by top Zanu PF members to help remove President Robert Mugabe from power.
The Zanu PF politburo members wanted President Mugabe to relinquish power, but they realised the veteran leader was unwilling to let go and sought the assistance of Dabengwa.
The allegations are contained in a US embassy cable released last week by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
Dabengwa yesterday confirmed meeting the WikiLeaks source, former US Ambassador James McGee, saying his stance and that of the late Retired General Solomon Mujuru on the need for President Mugabe to step down remained consistent.
Dabengwa also confirmed he wanted and still wants President Mugabe leave office.
Mujuru died in a mysterious fire at his farm last month.
Police are yet to go public with their investigations.
Dabengwa said while he did not remember the dates he met McGee, the contents of the cables were consistent with what transpired although they had been put in the former envoy’s own way.
“Everything that I have said in attempts to try and persuade him (President Mugabe) to step down from the 2007 congress up to the time before the 2008 elections has been consistent,” Dabengwa told NewsDay yesterday. “I even tried together with General Mujuru to persuade him to step down. I said this even after the death of the general.”
He added: “It’s no secret at all, depending on the interpretation that one has made out of it. But I have never hidden that I was one of the people and other colleagues who tried to make him step down.”
Dabengwa becomes the first senior political figure to admit meeting and discussing with US envoys. Zanu PF politicians fingered in the WikiLeaks disclosures have spiritedly distanced themselves from the explosive cables.
In the cable, Dabengwa is said to have “chickened out” (of the assignment to remove President Mugabe) because he was doubtful that as a Ndebele and former Zapu leader he would garner enough political support in the Mashonaland provinces. Instead Dabengwa told the US ambassador former Zanu PF politburo member Simba Makoni was the best person to achieve such a task. Makoni went on to stand against President Mugabe and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 2008 presidential election and lost by a wide margin.
Dabengwa allegedly met McGee on March 12, 2008. In the alleged meeting with McGee, Dabengwa recalled that President Mugabe had promised two years earlier at the United Nations to step down at the end of his current term.
But when President Mugabe indicated his intention to nevertheless run for re-election in 2008, Dabengwa said he had fought from within the Zanu PF politburo for the President to step down. He had intended to challenge him at the December 2007 Zanu PF congress, but President Mugabe had allegedly rigged it to prevent a challenge. According to the cable, Dabengwa then became one of the initiators of a Makoni candidacy.
“The objective was to get Mugabe out,” Dabengwa is quoted in the cable as having said.
Dabengwa was optimistic that President Mugabe could be defeated.
“Solomon Mujuru supports Makoni and will probably make his support known before the election. If there is a run-off between (President) Mugabe and either Makoni or the MDC’s Tsvangirai, he expects ‘horse-trading’ to establish an alliance between Makoni and Tsvangirai to oppose Mugabe,” reads the cable.
But Dabengwa’s concern was that if President Mugabe lost the election he would not accept defeat.
“He (Dabengwa) believes, however, that the military, with exceptions, will accept the will of the voters,” according to the cable.