ZAPU Youths and Elders In Fistfight

Dumiso Dabengwa is seen here at the PF ZAPU Congress in December 2008. This was the first Congress after the breakaway from ZANU PF. There were disturbances last week in Bulawayo when youths and elders clashed in Luveve and ended up fighting. It is alleged that Cyril Ndebele, the former Speaker of Parliament who is now a member of the PF ZAPU breakaway party, was found addressing youths and urging them to dump Dabengwa in his favour

Harare, Zimbabwe, 10 December 2009

Scores of youth from Dumiso Dabengwa's revived PF ZAPU have been detained by police after an altercation with Elders of the party in the Bulawayo Suburb of Luveve.

Dumiso Dabengwa, a former Commander of ZIPRA guerillas during Zimbabwe war of independence (Chimurenga), broke away from ZANU PF, throwing a Unity Accord signed by Mugabe and Dr Joshua Nkomo, founding president of PF ZAPU in 1987 into disarray.

He has since been joined in the revived party by high-profile figures such as former Speaker of Parliament, Cyril Ndebele and Dr Themba Dlodlo.

Apparently, Dumiso Dabengwa and the ZAPU leadership were meeting at Bulawayo City Hall and awaiting the arrival of Cyril Ndebele for a Council of Elders meeting. When Ndebele failed to show up, they phone his home and asked  where he was since they were awaiting his arrival. They were told that Ndebele had left home saying he was going to address a meeting of youths in Luveve.

Dabengwa and others immediately left for Luveve, where it is being alleged that they found Ndebele in full stride, denouncing Dumiso Dabengwa, asking, "Who is Dumiso Dabengwa? Who put him there?" It is alleged that he was urging the youths to put him in charge of the party instead in order for there to be progress.

This was when the fight broke out and police ended up being called to quell the disturbances. They arrested scores of people who were involved in the scuffle in Luveve and as of right now, it is not clear whether they are being charged with any crime and will appear in court or whether they were simply fined and sent on their way.

I spoke with Dr Themba Dlodlo a few minutes ago who told me: "It's an internal thing. It's people who left ZANU PF who were causing problems but we are sorting it out."

Dlodlo explains that the people who left ZANU PF to join the breakaway ZAPU think that after the ZANU PF Congress, things may change in ZANU PF and they may be able to get back. They do not want any new people who are not part of the breakaway from ZANU PF to join the party now, according to Dlodlo, because they fear these new people may end up getting positions in the breakaway PF ZAPU.

It appears these people Dlodlo is talking about are intent on getting substantive positions in PF ZAPU so that if, as they are dreaming, they are invited back to ZANU PF, they go back as senior and ranking members of PF ZAPU, thereby being guaranteed positions within ZANU PF as leaders of a reconciled PF ZAPU/ZANU PF entity.

"They sent people to go and disrupt a meeting," said Dlodlo, "saying why were they holding a meeting that had not been sanctioned by the Province. Saka vakasvika vakarohwa ikoko (So, they got beaten up when they got there.) Because we have said that Districts and all other structures are free to organise and moblise people without going through layers of bureaucracy," explained Dlodlo.

It is the bane of new parties in Zimbabwe and in fact, the bane of all political parties in Zimbabwe that people start positioning themselves "to eat" in any new entity. They feel threatened by new, capable and competent people and tend to slip into the old ZANU PF way of doing things to get their way.

I am sure PF ZAPU will come through this. Dabengwa is a strong character, a fearsome former bush-fighter and this should be mincemeat to him, really.

But rest assured that ZANU PF will try and use this to smear this new party and cast aspersions on it and its leadership. I doubt they will succeed, because Dabengwa is immensely popular in the southern region of Zimbabwe and his party is destined to lock up that area, freezing out both MDCs and ZANU PF.



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