Dabengwa regrets collapse of coalition talks

ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa has said he regrets the failure by opposition to form a grand coalition to block what he fears will herald political militarisation should the ruling Zanu PF win the July 30 elections.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Dabengwa told party supporters in Bulawayo at the weekend that a Zanu PF victory under military leadership will have dire consequences for the country. He said that would be a “classic fusion of army and political party hegemony” that a grand coalition was supposed curtail “before it becomes more established”.

“There is not enough urgency among the opposition parties to focus on the trend of militarisation of Zanu PF and what their win would mean in terms of top military commanders being turned into political leaders and blurring the divide between a professional army and partisan politicians,” Dabengwa said.

Zanu PF has a number of retired army personnel contesting in the upcoming harmonised elections. The ruling party’s political commissar Engelbert Rugeje is a retired Lieutenant-General, while Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo (Rtd Major-General), Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri (Rtd Air Force Commander) and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga (former Army Commander) also assumed political office following former President Robert Mugabe’s forced departure last November.

Dabengwa bemoaned the fragmentation of opposition parties saying only a grand coalition would have enhanced its collective capacity to block militarisation of the State.

“In spite of this new reality, the opposition has been reluctant to make the necessary sacrifice and adjustment to ambitions of individual party leaders or clusters of leaders. We clearly needed a grand opposition alliance, but this has eluded us, right up to a few weeks ago when I tried to be an honest broker with external facilitation by non-politicians,” he added.

The former Home Affairs minister urged vigilance in the opposition during the whole electoral process to prevent vote fraud.

“We must, therefore, be on the lookout for manipulation of the system at various stages and phases of the elections. Vigilance must be a watchword when voting and counting take place,” he said.

Contacted for comment, Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial information secretary Christopher Sibanda said Dabengwa should also quit politics if he took offense in former liberation war colleagues joining the political fray.

“At one time, Dabengwa hinted at quitting politics but is finding it hard because it is in his blood. His fears of political militarisation are unfounded as he was also in the trenches with comrades who have now joined him in politics,” Sibanda said.

“The only difference is that he did not remain in the army after the liberation war but joined politics immediately after. There is no crime in other comrades involving themselves in politics like him. It is also odd that he is choosing to demonise revolutionaries.”

Dabengwa pulled out of the presidential race at the last minute to support MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa.

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