Dabengwa: A hero in our hearts and minds

OBITUARY John Flashback Dzvinamurungu

ZIMBABWEANS from all walks of life were shattered by the sad news of the demise of Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, who passed on in transit home from India, where he had gone to seek medical treatment.

There is no doubt that all Zimbabweans are united in their griefs to mourn and pay tribute to Dabengwa, a revolutionary and visionary of the liberation struggle and a respected
Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) commander who sacrificed so much for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

The late Zipra intelligence supremo is revered as one of Zimbabwe and Africa’s most gallant freedom fighter and a true liberation hero.

Dabengwa was a principled revolutionary, who never mortgaged his soul to the revisionist regime of former President Robert Mugabe.

He remained true to the ideals of the liberation struggle until his death and for that, history has acknowledges that he and his comrades stood for a better Zimbabwe.

He was not an opportunist like many who masquerade as revolutionaries, but switch political allegiance like changing underpants.

As a principled leader, he refused to be used by the discredited regime of Mugabe, who wanted to co-opt him as Vice-President after the death of Joseph Musika, forsaking the luxuries of that office and, instead, chose to align with the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

Dabengwa was an example of a true hero. For true heroes do not beat their chests to remind people that they liberated this country neither do they claim shares in the looting and
plundering of the national resources of the country all in the name of the liberation struggle.

He never subscribed to the entitlement mantra of having this and that as a reward for having fought in the liberation of Zimbabwe. Indeed, he remained a true hero up to his last breath and never prostituted Zapu.

He was the very opposite of the people who personalise the Zimbabwean liberation struggle and the history of this country for their selfish ends.

Unlike some people we know who claim to have been the brains behind the liberation struggle, Dabengwa never exhibited his credentials in a negative manner despite being one of the pioneer freedom fighters and remained a man of the people, always reminding people that no one individual was bigger that the liberation struggle and that the struggle was a people’s struggle which should be a shared legacy by all.

Distancing himself from people with borrowed and dubious political and military credentials who hold our nation to ransom by claiming that they alone are entitled to rule Zimbabwe as a prize for having fought in the war of liberation, Dabengwa never boasted of having led one of the most gallant liberation forces, Zipra, in the history of Southern Africa as he was an acclaimed revolutionary in Africa and beyond.

He was an example of a revolutionary who believed in unity, in diversity and believed in a unity of purpose and not a marriage of convenience. It is for this reason that he left
Zanu PF, for the so-called unity by Zanu PF means that people should forego their history and join them, thus being accommodated as opposed to being there for their credentials

While the National Heroes Acre may need Dabengwa, he does not need the National Heroes Acre. For true revolutionaries are not declared by a political party, but are heroes in their own right as their heroism follows them to their graves.

The dithering in declaring national heroes of former Zapu freedom fighters by Zanu PF will not apply in the case of Dabengwa because already, the people of Zimbabwe have declared him a national hero in their hearts and minds. Those sitting to deliberate on his hero status admittedly may not fit in his revolutionary shoes for he was a giant of the liberation struggle.

The sad narrative, though, of Zimbabwean liberation struggle, which has more heroes after the struggle than during the struggle, needs to be rewritten to allow people to know who the true heroes of the liberation struggle were.

There are people who have chosen pages in the history of the liberation struggle as if them alone waged the struggle, which is an act of selfishness and yet Dabengwa remained humble, considered himself part of the struggle and not owner of the struggle, as depicted by some rogue elements of the struggle.

He believe Zipra comrades like the late Todd Mpala, Charles Grey, Harold Nyirenda and others earned and deserve their rightful places in history not by proclamation.

To the late Zapu leader, I salute you, for we all together travelled the long and arduous road of struggle, sharing times of tribulation and sacrifices and this was not in vain as today we stand a liberated people.

Zapu fought for this country and their contribution cannot be belittled in any way by anyone because their involvement was not by invitation but borne out of the conviction that Zimbabwe needed to be liberated whatever the cost.

Zapu’s pioneer role in the liberation struggle is personified by the likes of Dabengwa, Bothwell Kabaira, Arthur Chadzingwa, Kembo Dzvinamurungu, Patrick Gurupira, Buyandipi, Samuel Munodawafa, Dzukamanja, Lookout Masuku, Vote Moyo, Mvenge, and many others.

It is saddening to learn that today, we learn of Dabengwa’s demise in transit home from seeking treatment from foreign lands when our Parirenyatwa Group, Mpilo Central, United Bulawayo and Harare Central hospitals have been reduced to museums, with no medicines and equipment because of misrule and yet this is the opposite of what we fought for. People
fought for a true Zimbabwe with enough food, education and flourishing health delivery system.

Dabengwa has died a disappointed man because the post-white settler colonial Zimbabwe he lived in was a far cry from what people died for. Is this not a paradox that Zimbabwe, which is endowed with plenty of natural and human resources, has been reduced to a laughing stock and has become one of the poorest country in the world. The ideals of the liberation struggle were to make life abundant to all and not just the few privileged elites as we witness today.

Today, Zimbabweans have lost their dignity as they are scattered all over the world as economic refugees doing menial work despite being degreed.
Zimbabweans are found in every country of the world like what Jews were in the diaspora before the creation of the Jewish state of Israel. The question that begs an answer is: what went wrong?”

Our independence has become hollow and meaningless as people live in abject poverty. Zimbabweans are failing to pay school fees for their children and are unable to access medical treatment and feed themselves. This is not what people like Dabengwa struggled for.

Hamba kahle comrade, we will always remember you.

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