Africa

Zapu liberation war hero Dabengwa dies, aged 79

By Peta Thornycroft 23 May 2019

File Photo: Dumiso Dabengwa (December 6, 1939[3]– 23 May 2019) was a Zimbabwean politician. He served as the head of Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) intelligence during the Rhodesian Bush War. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Dumiso Dabengwa, 79, one of Zimbabwe’s main liberation war heroes, from the Joshua Nkomo-lead Zimbabwe African People’s Union, Zapu, died in Nairobi late on Wednesday, en route home from India where he had sought medical treatment.

Dabengwa, a charismatic Moscow-trained soldier, headed up the intelligence wing of Nkomo’s military wing, Zipra, during the long war against white minority rule, and was widely seen as the man who should have, could have, moved into leadership of Zimbabwe.

But he was from the minority Ndebele speaking groups, often detested by then president Robert Mugabe’s Shona supporters.

It is widely accepted by some historians these days that Zapu, in an alliance with the ANC, was the more sophisticated and best disciplined and trained of the two guerrilla forces.

Post independence, Dabengwa was arrested by Mugabe’s loyalists and although acquitted of treason, he was held in detention for a further four years.

Many are wondering now whether Dabengwa will be buried at the North Korean designed Heroes’ Acre near Harare, when his best friend, and fellow war hero Lookout Masuku, who died in detention, was not.

And it was North Korea which trained a brigade for Mugabe to kill thousands of Dabengwa’s loyalists after 1980 independence. DM

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

OUR BURNING PLANET

Climate crisis tears through southern Africa with at least nine million facing acute food insecurity

By Tiara Walters