Dabengwa Disowns Matabeleland Separatists

Paul Siwela and John Gazi, two leaders of the Matabeleland Liberation Front (MLF) are in trouble with the government and are presently facing treason charges for allegedly seeking the creation of a Matabeleland state.

But in a statement to the media on Wednesday, Dabengwa said ZAPU had no intention of reducing itself to a tribal or separatist movement.

“We went to war to liberate all of Zimbabwe, which we achieved in 1980 together with the people of Zimbabwe and the splinter liberation movement, ZANU. ZAPU remains a nationalist movement in every respect. The people of Zimbabwe understand what ZAPU stood and stands for, as evidenced by the positive response from all corners of the country towards the successful revival of our party,” said Dabengwa.

“ZAPU liberated and wants to rule all of Zimbabwe, and not part of it. Our party is different from the rest in that it has a new, fair and democratic governance system called devolution of power. We envisage creating five provinces or regions, namely, Mashonaland, Masvingo, Midlands, Manicaland and Matabeleland, to be lead by an elected provincial mini-government,” he said.

Dabengwa said there would be provincial or regional houses of assembly with relevant legislative powers, adding, however, that there would still be a national house of assembly to legislate national laws.

“There will still be central government lead by a president, similar to what happens in South Africa. Regional premiers and their governments will have the mandate to initiate and implement development policies and programmes in their areas and to run social services such as health and education.

Central government will remain in charge of national issues such as the army, police, national security, monetary and fiscal policies, revenue services, among other key matters of the state. Zimbabwe will still have one national flag, one national anthem, one president, one currency, and no borders between regions. There will be a fair and proportional distribution of national income to all the five provinces, as opposed to the current secretive and discriminative distribution of national wealth to favour one region at the expense of four others,” he said.

The ZAPU leader said devolution brought development to the people and removed all bottlenecks and red tape created by the current “Harare-based centralist governance system”.

“Devolution empowers the people to be self-determining. Clearly, devolution is not cessation and we do not understand why anyone would want to link our party to the MLF or cession,” he said.

Dabengwa, together the late Thenjiwe Lesabe, the former ZANU-PF leader of the Women League, quit ZANU-PF in 2007 to revive ZAPU, which forged a unity accord with ZANU in 1987.

In the run-up to the controversial 2008 presidential elections, Dabengwa supported the candidature of Simba Makoni, the former ZANU-PF politburo member, who formed Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn.

Siwela, one of the leaders of MLF, is presently remanded at Khami Maximum Prison while Gazi is out on US$5000 bail.