Liberation war stalwart Dr Dumiso Dabengwa (80) has died after a battle with a liver related disease.
Dr Dabengwa, who was Zapu president, died in Kenya on Thursday morning, en-route to Zimbabwe from India where he had been rushed for medical treatment.
Dabengwa was airlifted to the south Asian country in April, after having received medical attention in South Africa since November 2018.
The Zapu leader, who has not been seen in public in months due to his failing health, recently underwent surgery in the neighbouring country, before he was flown to India.
Writing on Twitter, former education minister David Coltart said; “I am very sad to read that Dumiso Dabengwa has died. Although we were on different sides in the war and on different sides when I first stood for Parliament we became good friends and he will be greatly missed. My deepest sympathy is extended to Zodwa & their family. #Zimbabwe.”
Journalist Brezh Malaba wrote: “A great liberator. Iqhawe lamaqhawe. Nobody can take that away from you. It’s a pity the revolution was later hijacked by hyenas.”
Dabengwa served as the head of Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) intelligence during the Rhodesian Bush War.
From 1992 to 2000 he served in the government as Minister of Home Affairs, and in 1991 he was appointed to the chair of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
During the Rhodesian Bush War the white minority nicknamed him the “Black Russian” because he trained in Moscow, Russia.
In 1982 Dabengwa was charged, with Lookout Masuku and four others, of treason by the Mugabe administration. They were acquitted due to lack of evidence in 1983. On release they were redetained under emergency regulations. At this time the Gukurahundi began.
Dabengwa was released four years later.
Dabengwa ran as a ZANU-PF candidate for a seat in the House of Assembly from Nkulumane in the 2000 election, but was defeated by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Gibson Sibanda. Dabengwa said that the MDC would have won even if its candidate was a donkey.
He was again defeated in the March 2005 parliamentary election. He served as a member of the ZANU-PF Politburo,but he announced his support for the opposition candidacy of Simba Makoni in the March 2008 presidential election at a press conference in Bulawayo on March 1, 2008.
A spokesman for Mugabe said that Dabengwa’s defection to Makoni was unimportant, claiming that Dabengwa did not command any support.
It was reported that Mugabe had offered to appoint Dabengwa as Vice-President following the election as the replacement for Joseph Msika, but that Dabengwa had declined the offer.