Practical Ways In Which Dabengwa Must Be Honoured


By Dumisani O Nkomo

Much has been said about the life and incredible heroism of former ZAPU intelligence supremo Dr Dumiso Dabengwa who died last week. Indeed, his heroic acts dating back to his days as a militant youth with the National Democratic Party to the battle of Wankie with the Luthuli Detachment. The key now is, how he will be honoured going forward and I would like to suggest several practical ways in which he can be honoured and this revolves around issues which where dear to him.

1.Return of ZIPRA / ZAPU Properties

In order to pro-actively enable ex combatants to be reintegrated into society without being a burden ZAPU / ZPRA mooted the idea of individual combatants contributing $50 each from their demobilisation money. This money was used to procure numerous properties including farms, buildings and resorts such as Castel Arms. A company called NITRAM was created to be the business vehicle for the ex-combatants in what was extremely visionary planning. Properties such as Magnet House, were some of the buildings which were procured as it was recognised that the real estate portfolio was key in unlocking financial returns in the long term. The building is now occupied by the Central Intelligence Organisation. Significantly when the government discovered arms caches in ZAPU farms such as Ascot Farm: all NITRAM properties were confiscated. These weapons had apparently mainly been earmarked for the A.N.C’s armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe. This was the first case of violation of property rights in post independent Zimbabwe as all the properties were ruthlessly seized. In order to honour Dabengwa, these properties must be returned to their rightful owners the ZPRA vets. This is a non-negotiable issue which must be addressed urgently and later day. There must be a roadmap detailing when and how these properties will be returned. Although a lot of these properties are run down, they will go a long way in ensuring that genuine ex-combatants were entitled to benefit as well as their families.

2.Implementation of Zambezi Water Trust

This project was in Dabengwa’s heart until his very last days. His vision was developmental in these last five to ten years and he yearned for this project to be implemented so that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created in a 60 km greenbelt with upstream and down-stream agro–industrial activities and finally water for Bulawayo which suffers perennial water shortages. He had formed the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) to pursue this dream and developed viable business models to ensure that it was well funded. The Trust applied for mining concessions in Lupane to facilitate self-funding for the Zambezi project but this was shot down by senior government officials. If the government is serious about honouring Dabengwa, it must ensure this project is implemented and there is a timeframe to complete it. The project is listed in the Matrix which government developed in response to fearless advocacy from the Matabeleland Collective. There must be a clear roadmap including the granting of concessions to the MZWT and completion of the Gwai Shangani Dam in the next 12 months. The national budget must set aside funds for this project.

3.Implementation of Devolution of Power

Devolution of power is something which Dr Dabengwa vehemently believed in and in order to honour him this project must be implemented immediately. There has been enough talking and “pie in the sky talk” about devolution but what remains is action so the enabling legislation to effect devolution must be put in place as a matter of the utmost urgency in consultation with civil society and other stakeholders.


The country’s history is fatally flawed and erroneously excludes the contribution of ZAPU and ZPRA in the liberation struggle. The first guns to be brought into Zimbabwe were smuggled into the country in 1962 after talks between Joshua Nkomo and Abdul Naser the then Egyptian President. Once in the then Rhodesia, the young Bobylock Manyonga, was unfortunately found in possession of dangerous weapons and the ZAPU efforts foiled but the first weapons came into the country in 1962 and this is not recorded in the country’s history in an accurate manner. The first militants to escape from Grey Prison were Moffat Hadebe, Clarke Mpofu and two other cadres, yet this incredible prison break remains unknown and undocumented. The exploits of the John Dube led Luthuli detachment are not adequately captured neither is the Sipholilo campaign led by Moffat Hadebe. The A.N.C / ZAPU alliance is not fully captured in the annuls of Zimbabwean history neither is the contribution of ZAPU, ZPRA stalwarts.

5.Adressing Gukurahundi

The Gukurahundi Genocide must be addressed holistically and comprehensively with a victim led approach being the epi centre of the process and truth recovery and restorative justice being cardinal to the process.

Lastly, the City of Bulawayo must posthumously award Freedom of the City to Dabengwa and name a street after him together with Lookout Masuku, Nikita Mangena, Akim Ndlovu and Moffat Hadebe [he is still alive]. ZAPU heroes such as Sydney Malunga, Lazarus Nkala, Vote Moyo, Njini Ntuta, Edward Ndlovu, Steven Nkomo, Sikwili Moyo, Albert Nxele and others must be honoured as well.


Dumisani O Nkomo

NKOMO is the Chief Executive Office Officer of Habakkuk Trust

He Writes here in his personal capacity

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende