Yesterday we heard about the passing of Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa, a liberation war hero who after the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 agreed to serve in the government of Robert Mugabe, the same government that had charged him with treason in 1982. In a clear indication that those were trumped up charges and that Dabengwa was hardly the national security threat he had been made out to be, Mugabe appointed him Minister of Home Affairs once the Unity Accord had been signed.
In the run-up to the 2018 election, I had several conversations with him, and most memorable to me was his response to my suggestion during a meeting at Cresta Churchill Hotel in Bulawayo that the Unity Accord and his participation in government had created false hope and provided ZanuPF the opportunity to entrench itself with tragic consequences for our country.
“Manyika”, he responded, “there is one thing ZanuPF has really mastered, and that is making those who don’t go along with them feel like traitors, and turning those who do into traitors. So you are damned if you don’t, and damned if you do.”
“We thought independence would give us rest,” he continued, “but it didn’t. Then the Unity Accord, but our hopes were misplaced. Almost forty years after the end of the war, I am still looking for that rest.”
Until that conversation, I had found Dr. Dabengwa to be remarkably composed and also seemingly in great health given his age and what he had gone through. The hint of tears I saw in his eyes on that day and his painful words revealed that he was among the many Zimbabweans who made tremendous sacrifices for our country but would struggle to find peace and rest in it.
On behalf of my family and the extended BZA community I would like to express my deepest condolences to Dr. Dabengwa’s family. May our hero find peace in his rest, and rest in his peace.