The revival of ZAPU, which has been given wide media publicity, has been a monumental failure because it is being led by failed politicians who have been trying to get out of ZANU-PF since the death of former ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo in 1999.
Bulawayo war veterans leader Themba Ncube said the revival of ZAPU and its military wing ZIPRA was a recipe for confrontation but it was not going to split ZANU-PF as the organisers wanted to because ZANU-PF was aware of the ploy.
ZAPU was supposed to be officially relaunched with a bang at White City Stadium on November 1 but the plan flopped forcing the organisers to retract. Instead ZANU-PF provincial chairman McLeod Tshawe claimed that the meeting had been organised to raise people’s grievances which included allegations that former ZAPU members were being sidelined.
Vice-President Joseph Msika, the highest ranking member of the former ZAPU, distanced himself from those trying to revive the party but sources said Msika had officially been invited to re-launch the party but did not turn up when he was told that only a handful of people had pitched up.
Former ZIPRA intelligence boss Dumiso Dabengwa who left ZANU-PF at the beginning of this year to join the Mavambo Project is said to be the brains behind the revival of ZAPU but he has denied this.
Current Bulawayo Provincial chairman, Macleod Tshawe and another war veteran Andrew Ndlovu are also said to be behind the revival.
Bulawayo war veterans claim that the entire ZANU-PF leadership from Bulawayo supports the revival but are afraid to come out.
Themba Ncube, a former Bulawayo Province chairman who was kicked out by local members of the politburo and replaced by an interim executive led by Tshawe said the people trying to revive ZAPU were behind the present chaos in Bulawayo because they were responsible for splitting the party into Godi and Petition factions.
The Godi faction is largely composed of younger war veterans and is loyal to Jabulani Sibanda the war veterans national chairman while the Petition faction is said to be loyal to Dabengwa.
“The people who are complaining bitterly that they are being sidelined by the government are the same people who benefitted from the land distribution programme and other benefits. What about those who did not get anything but remain loyal to the party and its government?” Ncube asked in a statement on behalf of the war veterans in Bulawayo.
The war veterans said if former ZAPU leaders were genuine about reviving the party, they should organise a national conference where they should invite all former ZAPU and ZIPRA combatants. They should also give the people at least three months’ notice.
“This is not a Bulawayo affair. ZAPU and ZIPRA were national organisations not confined to Bulawayo. If these people are genuine they should invite people from all the 10 provinces, not just those from Bulawayo because they are turning this into a tribal thing,” the war veterans said.
They also argued that the revival of ZIPRA could see the revival of ZANLA, the fighting wing of ZANU; RAR (Rhodesia African Rifles), the former Rhodesian army; Pfumo Revanhu, the private army of former Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Prime Minister Abel Muzorewa; and many others.
“Where would this lead us? Back to the 1970s?” they queried.
The war veterans also criticised the way the party had handled the whole issue. They queried why the party had launched a so-called “probe” because there was nothing to probe. Known individuals had organised a meeting at Stanley Square at which they publicly stated that they were reviving ZAPU and ZIPRA.
“There is video evidence of this, so what is the so-called probe about?” one war veteran asked.
They also criticised national chairman John Nkomo for not openly denouncing the current Bulawayo provincial executive because it was behind the revival of ZAPU. Nkomo addressed a marathon meeting at the party’s Davies Hall in Bulawayo at the weekend but he did not say much after the meeting. He was quoted by the local Sunday paper as saying he had a lot on his mind, but this would only be seen by way of action.
The meeting was attended by several politburo and central committee members from the province as well as Tshawe, who war veterans said should have been chasticised if Nkomo had been serious.
A party insider said though it might not have been intentional Nkomo’s attitude had saved the party because those behind the revival of ZAPU were seeking open confrontation so that it would appear as if there was a real split in ZANU-PF.
“These people have run out of ideas. They did the same thing when they formed Mavambo. They thought that people would stampede out of ZANU-PF and join them but no one followed despite promises to do so. The same thing is happening now. They thought people would flock to White City Stadium like in the days of Joshua Nkomo but that flopped and they are now sitting on the fence,” the insider said.
Bulawayo has always been a ZAPU stronghold but support for the party has been lost to Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai who is now pulling crowds that Joshua Nkomo used to attract.
Several attempts to revive ZAPU or to form regional parties confined to Matabeleland have all, so far, flopped.
Posted- 18 November 2008