KHUPE, MNANGAGWA & DUMISO DABENGWA - BIRTH OF A "SOUTHERN ALLIANCE"

Zimbabwe's current leaders would like to see Dumiso Dabengwa (centre), back in government as a Vice President (something we first reported on here in August 2009). The dynamics this time around may be different enough to make this a reality, although Dabengwa still insists that his party, ZAPU, will not be disbanded. This time round, Madame Khupe and her outfit, likely to win significant support in Matabeleland in the 2018 polls, is in the mix.

If all goes to plan, in a few weeks time, you are almost certainly going to see Dumiso Dabengwa and Thokozani Khupe campaigning together in the Southern Region of Zimbabwe.

This issue, but the way, is also linked to why you are probably going to see the courts rule against Khupe in her quest to retain the MDC-T name. At law and technically, she would have been guaranteed to win that battle, but the dynamics changed in the last two weeks of April this year (2018). 

This move is directly linked to the fact that Kembo Mohadi will not be a vice-president of Zimbabwe after the elections this year. It is argued strongly by those around the President Mnangagwa that Mohadi does not serve the purpose of the VP he occupies, which is to represent ZAPU and its support base.

President Mnangagwa and VP Chiwenga have been trying to get Dumiso Dabengwa back into the fold ever since he reconstituted ZAPU after the 2008 elections. Dabengwa is hugely popular in the southern region of Zimbabwe, personally, but has failed to make the new ZAPU a formidable force.

The recent split in the MDC-T, however, has opened a door to consolidate the Southern vote in what Emmerson Mnangagwa believes will be a more meaningful manner. The result of this is the proposal of a Southern Alliance, putting together Thokozani Khupe and Dumiso Dabengwa outfits in the region.

Intelligence gathered by ZANU PF indicates that Khupe will almost certainly carry a significant part of Matabeleland, much as Welshman Ncube did after he split from Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC.  The plan is that, put together with Dabengwa, they could attain at least 26 seats in Matabeleland and Midlands.

The sticking point at the moment is that Dabengwa has no intention whatsoever of disbanding or renaming his reconstituted ZAPU. At the same time, Khupe knows that retaining the MDC-T name in these elections will definitely make her stronger and perhaps even Kingmaker after the elections. She has no intention of letting go of this name because of the power it will have at the polls.

As we write this, all eyes are on the court case in which Nelson Chamisa is demanding that Khupe stop using the MDC-T name. Another post is going to be published soon on the moves within Chamisa's Alliance at the moment to mitigate results of the sloppy planning that has seen the Alliance faced with the real risk of "defeat by confusion" in the ballot booths of 2018.

But, back to the Southern Alliance:

Those in ED and Chiwenga's private circles are adamant that the President and his powerful deputy believe strongly that having a strong voice in government for Matabeleland is the only meaningful way of ameliorating the pain of the Gukurahundi episode. They consider this more powerful even than an apology or a Commission.

The offer for Dumiso Dabengwa is as follows: the Vice-presidency of Zimbabwe with a specific mandate to rejuvinate Matabeleland. 20% of every annual budget for the country from 2019 would be dedicated to Matabeleland for development and investment purposes.

Dumiso Dabengwa is bitter that he was "handed a live grenade" when appointed Chairman of the Zambezi Water Project, which has been starved of financing and not given priority by the government of Robert Mugabe.

The move is being framed in the context of President Emmerson Mnangagwa's desire to have a unified country post elections, something those close to him say he is determined to achieve, arguing that the country needs true unity so that the government concentrates on economic recovery.

The plan is to make Matabeleland the hub of Zimbabwe's ranching industry, which is why Dabengwa is being assured that the Water project is guaranteed to be completed in record time, so that this industry can kick into gear.

Originally, the idea had been to have Dabengwa back in ZANU PF, re-enacting the Unity Accord between Mugabe and Nkomo of 1988. But Dabengwa has shot this down. You will recall that it was this blog that originally informed you of the offer of a vice-presidency to Dabengwa by Mugabe after the 2008 elections, which Dabengwa shot down because it meant disbanding ZAPU and rejoining ZANU PF.

Mnangagwa's ZANU PF has since taken the position that the swallowing of Dabengwa's reconstituted ZAPU is no longer on the table as an option, after Dabengwa effectively demanded the demolition of ZANU PF structures in Matabeleland and the returning of his party's assets, which now belong to ZANU PF as a result of the Unity Accord before he could even give his answer to the approach that was made to him in March and April of this year (2018).

So, the proposal now would be that Dabengwa would be made Vice-President, replacing Kembo Mohadi, without having to disband the ZAPU he now leads, provided he can demonstrate his backing in the region Joshua Nkomo held such an iron-grip on that Mugabe was forced to negotiate with him.

Should Dabengwa pull this off, President Mnangagwa is said to have promised to return whatever properties ZAPU allowed to be taken over by the unified ZANU PF. His argument at the moment is that Dabengwa has not demonstrated that there is a ZAPU support base that he is speaking for, mainly because he has failed to make an impact at the polls.

Putting him together with Khupe, on the other hand, would give both his outfit and Khupe's party a real reason to argue that they represent the interests of Matabeleland and should therefore be given real power to make a difference in the region.

Khupe, however, has national ambitions and is uneasy being cast as a regional leader. She honestly believes that, if she succeeds in using the MDC-T name on the ballot paper, she will actually garner more seats nationwide than Chamisa and perhaps as many as enjoyed by Morgan Tsvangirai at his zenith. Clarity will only emerge after the court ruling on the case of Chamisa vs Khupe.

"If DD manages this, it will mean ZAPU supporters have acknowledged and are in support of his move to terminate the unity agreement, as negotiated by Mugabe and Nkomo", a senior military source privy to the discussions between ZANU PF and Dabengwa says. "Right now, DD has failed to get an electoral mandate and ED and VP Chiwenga's position is that, on the ground, it appears ZAPU supporters still support the Unity Accord of 1988. If they signal through an election that they support DD's move, then talks will be based on that new reality."

Taking their cue and encouragement from the Welshman Ncube model, the current government supports  Dabengwa throwing his lot in with Khupe, making a strong showing at the polls in August this year, after which he and Khupe would become significant players in a new government, without abandoning their party identity.

Welshman Ncube split from Morgan Tsvangirai before the 2008 elections and contested those elections as a different MDC. He picked up the majority of seats in Matabeleland in the 2008 election, which led to his party, then led by Arthur Mutambara, becoming a significant member of the Government of National Unity that was then formed in the wake of those polls.

Government Intelligence sources say this scenario is likely to play itself out again in the 2018 polls, in the wake of the split between Nelson Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe and the feeling in MDC-T Matabeleland structures that Khupe has been mistreated by Chamisa because of her tribal identity.

It does not help matters that, in the alliance that Nelson Chamisa has inherited from Morgan Tsvangirai, the most prominent faces are those of Chamisa himself and Tendai Biti. Welshman Ncube, although a member of the Alliance, has not figured much in the forefront of the activities of the grouping.

President Mnangagwa considers himself a peer of Dumiso Dabengwa and was at the forefront of earlier moves reported on this blog after the 2008 elections, when the Robert Mugabe government  made approaches to  Dabengwa to become a vice-president in the government that had Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister. Dabengwa turned that approach down.

This time, Mnangagwa and VP Chiwenga have made another approach through the military for Dabengwa to yet again be given the vice-presidency, replacing Kembo Mohadi after the elections.

While Dabengwa is still deliberating on this, intelligence source discovered that Khupe is likely to walk away with the Matabeleland vote this year and the proposal for Dabengwa to align with her became a very viable proposition.

All that remains now is to see the results of the court case between Chamisa and Khupe, which may have the result of forcing Khupe's hand. Khupe herself would be guaranteed a cabinet position in the event.


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