By Nqobile Tshili
Thousands yesterday thronged White City Stadium to pay their last respects to national hero Dr Dumiso Dabengwa as speakers from a cross section of society testified to his impeccable liberation war credentials and contributions towards development.
Dr Dabengwa’s cortege arrived at White City Stadium just after 10:15AM and was made of the hearse carrying his body, vehicles carrying family members, Government officials, close friends and Zapu members among others.
He will be buried in Ntabazinduna today.
Dr Dabengwa died last week on Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya en-route to Zimbabwe from India where he had been rushed for medical treatment.
He died at the age of 79 following liver related illness.
People from all walks of life and politicians from across the political divide attended Dr Dabengwa’s funeral service in true testimony of statesmanship.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Bulawayo Judith Ncube said when Dr Dabengwa died procedures that are usually followed before a national hero is declared were abandoned attesting to his stature.
She said Dr Dabengwa is true national hero of impeccable character.
“Many people have spoken about ubaba uDabengwa’s remarkable contributions to the national cause. Dabengwa was not anointed a hero, he worked for this accolade that no one can erase or take away from him. What happened in declaring him a national hero is that there wasn’t a meeting to deliberate about what honour suits him.
“But the President soon after learning that he had died, that a hero had died, he (President Mnangagwa) adjourned a meeting that he was holding and had to make a Press briefing quickly thereby confirming that a hero of heroes had died. The President was observing ubaba uDabengwa’s works,” she said.
Ncube said Dr Dabengwa was a great visionary and level headed man who led by example.
She challenged Bulawayo residents to stop fighting over trivial issues and work towards reviving the city’s industries in honour of his vision.
“Mama maKhumalo, God bless you. Our hero and commander has gone, he was not the type who would demand to be followed but his actions always spoke louder than words.
“We are grateful that ubaba uDabengwa was declared a national hero, so we want to say rest in peace our Zimbabwe’s hero,” she said.
Former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) military wing, Chief of Staff and Patron of the Joe Modise Foundation Major General Jackie Sedibe (Retired) described Dr Dabengwa as a selfless servant of humanity and a gallant warrior for social justice and peace.
“Dumiso Dabengwa belonged to a rare breed of freedom fighters whose patriotism goes beyond national boundaries. A warrior who believed that their own freedom cannot be meaningful as long as their neighbours still toiled under the oppressive clutches of Colonialism and Imperialism,” she said.
“Cde Dabengwa’s credentials are to be found in his life-long commitment to the struggle for the liberation of the people of South Africa which he saw as a part of his role as a combatant for the liberation of his own country Zimbabwe.”
Zapu acting president Mr Isaac Mabuka commended Government for declaring Dr Dabengwa a national hero.
“There was precedence that if you wanted to be a hero you had to join Zanu-PF. But there is now a new precedence because the precedence that was there was going to make future governments even of opposition parties that if you do not belong to our party you won’t be a hero.
“Now we have seen a new direction that even if you are in the opposition party, you can be a national hero. We thank the President of the Republic for that,” said Mr Mabuka.
A member the National Security Organisation (NSO), which Dr Dabengwa headed as Zipra intelligence chief, Mr Jeremy Brickhill described the national hero as man of integrity.
“Dabengwa was a fearless commander. He never issued orders which he himself would not carry out. He was a kind commander. He cared about his soldiers.
“Dumiso taught us many lessons but today I want to talk about the lessons he left me. He was a soldier of peace, he believed and fought for our development. Dabengwa didn’t want to manage poverty or increase it he fought to overthrow poverty,” said Mr Brickhill.
“He respected traditional culture but rejected tribalism he fought against racism, tribalism and discrimination all his life. He fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe.”
He paid tribute to Dr Dabengwa’s widow for standing by her husband through the difficult moments.
Dr Dabengwa’s younger brother Mr Jabu Dabengwa described the national hero as a principled man who joined politics in his early 20s.
Mr Dabengwa said his older brother would convene political meetings at their Mpopoma house which later landed him in jail after calling the then government rotten.
He said while Dr Dabengwa was politically active, he remained a family man who made time for his wife, children and siblings.
Services chiefs led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga represented by Deputy Commissioner-Gen in charge of Operations Learn Ncube and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Commissioner General Paradzai Zimondi among others members of the security attended the funeral service.
Also in attendance was Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu and Defence and War Veterans Deputy Minister Cde Victor Matemadanda.
MDC president Mr Nelson Chamisa, his deputy Professor Welshman Ncube among other members of the opposition also attended the funeral service.
The others who attended the service include Zanu-PF Politburo member Tshinga Dube, former Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association national chairman Jabulani Sibanda and former Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo.The Chronicle