Dabengwa Wants "Unqualified Apology"

Harare, Zimbabwe, 11 August 2009

Dumiso Dabengwa, the ZAPU leader and former ZAPU Commander, who is being offered the vice-presidency of Zimbabwe by Mugabe, is holding out and repeating his oft-stated demand for an apology from Mugabe over Gukurahundi.

This is one of his two demands. Dabengwa is said to have also demanded that the healing process currently underway encompass Gukurahundi.

You will recall I told you when I broke the story about a Reconciliation Commission that Mugabe had told Tsvangirai that Gukurahundi had "nothing to do" with him and he could only speak for the violence that followed the formation of the MDC.

Very few people are aware of just how mortified Mugabe is over the Matabeleland massacres termed by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe's government "Gukurahundi" - the early rains that wash away the chaff".

The only time Mugabe ever came even close to making a public apology over anything was over the Gukurandi massacres, which he said he "regretted" and called "a moment of madness."

Back then, it was because Joshua Nkomo, Vice-president and ZAPU President, pestered Mugabe over the matter, explaining in detail to him over months just what was done in the rural areas of Matabeleland, insisting that the people of the region did not want retribution or vengeance, just an acknowledgement of their horrors.

Mugabe is loath to openly and unequivocally accept blame for the 1980s Gukurahundi. Besides it leading (potentially) to a huge number of claims in court from people stripped of their belongings and loved ones, there is also the fact that he considers the unity with ZAPU in 1987 to have settled that issue.

So, Dabengwa, who has made it clear before that Mugabe has to offer an apology, is now using that to try and put The Solution on the spot.

If he wants Dabengwa to be VP bad enough, he will have to face that greatest fear of his.

Or perhaps other ways of persuasion will be found. That can never be discounted. But by all accounts, Mugabe is dead serious about the approach to the ZAPU leader.

Just the fact that the revived ZAPU is being treated now with some respect even in state media also means that Dabengwa has won already. Mugabe and his people recognise Dabengwa's ZAPU now.

To fully understand the approach to Dabengwa, you should also be aware that right across Matabeleland, whole ZANU PF structures are defecting to Dabengwa's party. Mugabe knows that the rural constituencies that he used to pick up here and there were coming to him only because he was with ZAPU. Left to their own devices, the people of the region would throw ZANU PF out on its ear.

Mugabe, who is demanding "unity", meaning Dabengwa would have to disband the ZAPU he revived and come back to the ZANU PF fold, is actually playing his usual game and I hope Dabengwa realises this.

Mugabe's mode of negotiation is to start off by making outrageous and ridiculous demands on issues he really cares nothing about. He did it with Nelson Chamisa, when he wanted to take back control of Interception of Communications.

Those close to the dictator say he is willing to actually forge a new alliance with Dabengwa's ZAPU, as a sister party from the liberation wars. The idea, obviously, is to bide his time and eventually swallow them again.

He maintains that he is still "an avowed apostle of the one party state".

This, I suppose, should also point us to the destination where Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T will end up.

"Never!" did they say? We will see.


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