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Zapu Stalwart Dumiso Dabengwa Dies

Dumiso Dabengwa

Former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa has died.

In a statement, Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said Dabengwa died today following a battle with an undisclosed illness.

“The Zimbabwe and Southern Africa liberation icon Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa has taken rest from the struggle that has spanned all his life since 1939. The finest citizen Zimbabwe ever produced, statesman, brave soldier and commander, retired from the long struggle that has seen the liberation from colonialism of the whole Southern Africa region and beyond before contributing to a peaceful development of Zimbabwe post-independence, against the odds that were all scaled against him.

“The ZAPU president passed on today after an equally long and strenuous struggle against illness since November 2018. The iconic struggle for Zimbabwe and Southern Africa giant takes a bow as we continue to search for the ever elusive and evasive trophy of an independent, free, fair and democratic nation.”

Maphosa said the late freedom fighter left behind “seeds of freedom, peaceful coexistence and national development that will germinate in all of us as we follow in his footprints.”

He said the late Zapu stalwart “was a hero, liberator, protector and above all, a brotherly friend.

“The giant tree has fallen. We shall remember our president as a man whose love for his country is unmatched. He loved his people and all his life he wished to see Zimbabwe getting out of the current mess and give a better life to all its citizens. It is the wish we shall continue as he taught us. We know our heroes. DD tops that list.”

The late Dabengwa, who was among top leaders of Zapu in the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence in the 1960s, is well-known for pulling his party out of the 1987 Unity Accord with ZANU PF following complaints that the peace agreement only favored the old ZANU PF members.

The late founding Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo appealed to Dabengwa to be part of the unity agreement when he refused, claiming that then the Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s government detained him and attempted to kill him. He was also unhappy over the killing of thousands of people in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade led by Perrence Shiri, current Minister of Agriculture.

The late Dabengwa’s colleague, Lookout Masuku who was detained with him following the ‘discovery’ of so-called arm caches in Zapu properties soon after independence in 1980, died in prison. The government claimed that he died of meningitis though this was disputed by Dabengwa and Zapu.
Dabengwa was affectionately known as DD or Black Russian in Zimbabwe owing to his military intelligence training in Moscow.

FILE - The control tower is seen at Zimbabwe's main international airport in Harare, Nov. 9, 2017. Earlier this week, authorities arrested five activists at the airport.

Authorities in Zimbabwe have charged five human rights campaigners arrested earlier this week, accusing them of plotting to overthrow President Emmerson Mnangagwa, lawyers said Wednesday.

"The five were charged with subverting a constitutional government," Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda said in a statement.

Four of the activists were arrested Monday when disembarking from a flight at Harare airport. The fifth was arrested at the same airport Tuesday.

According to the lawyers, police said the activists had attended a workshop in the Maldives run by a group that trained people "how to mobilize citizens to turn against the government and to engage in acts of civil disobedience."

The arrests came days after state-owned daily The Herald ran a story claiming organizations with links to the main opposition MDC party "had been hard at work laying the groundwork for civil unrest to be unleashed next month."

Zimbabwean authorities have in the past used brutal force, including the use of live ammunition, to crush dissent.

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