BY NIZBERT MOYO
The body of the late Zapu leader and former Cabinet minister Dumiso Dabengwa, who died in Kenya last week, arrived at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo yesterday afternoon aboard South African airline Airlink.
His arrival came amid reports that the ruling Zanu PF party wanted to hijack the programme, but was blocked by family members and Zapu supporters who told them that the wishes of the late Zipra intelligence supremo must be respected.
The former Home Affairs minister died at the age of 79 on Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya, while travelling from India where he had gone for medical treatment.
On Saturday, it had been announced that the body would arrive on Sunday in Bulawayo, forcing Zapu, family members, government ministers and Zanu PF activists to camp at the airport in Bulawayo.
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi then announced that the body would arrive yesterday in Harare before it could be flown to Bulawayo, but NewsDay understands that the late supremo’s relatives insisted he should be flown straight to Bulawayo for burial at his rural home in Ntabazinduna as per his wish.
The family members and Zapu, the party that Dabengwa led reportedly told government and Zanu PF officials during a funeral wake at his home in Fourwinds that they appreciate the government’s effort to bear the costs of the funeral and burial, but asked it to respect the family programme and be guided by it.
This saw the government reversing its plans to have Dabengwa’s remains arriving in Harare, but being be taken straight to Bulawayo.
The body was met by family members, Zapu members, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube and other Zanu PF members that included Tshinga Dube and Ntabazinduna traditional leader, Chief Khayisa Ndiweni.
“Right now, we are at Nyaradzo Funeral parlor from the airport, then home. He will be buried on Saturday at Ntabazinduna. There will be some activities, including speeches and a church service at White City Stadium on Friday,” family spokesperson, Sijabuliso Dabengwa said.
Zapu secretary of elders, Roma Nyathi said the whole programme is being run by the family.
“I worked with the late Dabengwa since 1956. He is a real comrade in arms. I urge all men and women to come in their numbers to give him a resounding send-off on Saturday,” he said.