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Zapu fights for seized properties

By Jeffrey Muvundusi

The Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu has reacted angrily to claims that its properties which were seized by the government during the early 1980s now officially belong to the ruling Zanu PF.

ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa
ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa

This comes as a former stalwart in the military wing of Zapu, the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) — retired colonel Tshinga Dube — has said that the unity accord which ended hostilities between PF Zapu and Zanu PF meant that the former could no longer make any claims about the disputed properties.

But Zapu maintains that the properties were grabbed as part of a wider campaign to weaken the then vibrant opposition party, which was led by the revered late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo.

Then, the party was accused of fomenting violence and leading an insurrection in Matabeleland and Midlands, soon after the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.

“Zapu went into the Unity Accord via a special congress resolution. The Zapu hierarchy remained intact in Zanu PF during the duration of the Accord from 1987 to 2009.

“When Zapu could no longer stay in there, the hierarchy sought a special congress resolution to pull out of the unity.

“The congress was held in May 2009. Zanu PF was notified of that resolution,” a defiant Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa told the Daily News yesterday.

He added that the Unity Accord document did not mention the amalgamation of the two parties’ assets, save for “only speaking of the presidency of Robert Mugabe.”

Zapu has consistently argued that the government grabbed more than 20 properties that the party had countrywide before it signed the Unity Accord in December 1987.

Among the properties is Magnet House in Bulawayo which now shelters operatives from the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

An estimated 20 000 people are said to have been killed in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early to mid-1980s when the government deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to the two regions, to fight an insurrection.

Unity Day was subsequently set up to commemorate the accord which was later signed between Zapu and Zanu, and which ended hostilities between the two parties.

Yesterday, former Cabinet minister and one of the few surviving ex-Zapu heavyweights, Dube, said the issue of the properties “had long been settled by” the Unity Accord.

“As for Zapu properties, I don’t have any problem with that because there was a Unity Accord which was signed between two parties … it means that those properties now belong to Zanu PF.

“However, I have a problem with Zipra properties which were taken by the government. Those were individual properties.

“It was individuals who came together and formed a company called Nitram, where they contributed $50 each and acquired various properties which included farms.

“So, taking away such properties is equivalent to grabbing someone’s property,” Dube told the Daily News.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumed the reins of the ruling party in 2017, following the fall of the country’s former leader Robert Mugabe, Zapu had moved to petition the new Zanu PF leader on the matter.

“President, following your inaugural speech at the National Sports Stadium, in which you spoke so glowingly of a new dispensation and a new era, where rights of every citizen are respected and promoted, we write to remind you of a major violation of our rights as Zapu and Zipra by the government … which you now lead.

“The actions by government on Zapu and Zipra, especially around the above matter, infringes on equality and belonging to the country as bona fide and equal citizens.

“We have been making calls for this overdue process, albeit on deaf ears. In anticipation and trust that you will walk the talk on your promise to respect and promote people’s rights, we hope to receive from your government what duly belongs to us,” Zapu said in its petition to Mnangagwa. DailyNews