Zapu Stampede To Replace Late Ex-Leader Dumiso Dabengwa

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

OPPOSITION Zapu’s Chitungwiza branch has nominated the party’s incumbent Secretary-General Strike Mkandla as its presidential choice setting the stage for a bruising fight ahead of the elective congress set for August.

The party will hold internal elections to choose a presidential candidate to replace late Dumiso Dabengwa who died two years ago in Kenya while en route to Zimbabwe from India where he had been receiving medical treatment.

Mkandla becomes the party’s third presidential hopeful to be nominated following the nomination of two aspiring candidates Bernard Magugu and current Treasurer-General Mark Mbaiwa. They have been nominated by South Africa and European branches respectively.

Late Vice President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s son Sibangilizwe, has also reportedly been nominated by the party’s Kezi branch in Matabeleland South province where the late liberation icon hailed from.

However, Nkomo’s nomination has created some controversy over his eligibility to contest in the coming election.

The August elective congress has been postponed several times due to Covid-19 induced lockdowns, which restricted large gatherings and travel.

In an interview with, Mkandla said he had already launched his presidential campaign under the theme; “Authentic Transition”.

Mkandla added the former revolutionary party required a leader who cherished the party’s background and history.

“There are all manners of transition. If the transition is not properly managed, it can be chaotic. First of all, we know Zapu was led by Joshua Nkomo for a long time and we didn’t have the problem of leadership or where we were going. Nkomo practically set the pace and figured out where we are going,” he said.

“Dabengwa was brought in, in 2010 to lead Zapu, and he was highly experienced both in the military and also in the political terrain. Therefore, he was the best suited to take over after Nkomo.”

He also took a swipe at some of the presidential contenders arguing they lacked understanding of the party’s core values.

“Zapu has a lot of unfinished business. If we keep on thinking we are inventing everything, we shall go nowhere because people without history do not know where they are going.

“It is quite easy to promise the world that when I come in, Zapu will have money by tomorrow morning and yet some of those people never contributed a cent (to the party),” said Mkandla.

He said for one to contest for the presidency, one must be a member of the party for at least five years.

“Below that, you are not qualified. To become a national executive member, you must have been a member for at least three years so that we are not confused by people coming today who think they can reinvent the party. Zapu must have a sense of continuity,” added Mkandla.

Several other candidates including the party’s spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa, and prominent Bulawayo transport mogul, Mathew Sibanda are also interested in taking over from Dabengwa. However, they are yet to receive nominations from the branches.

The party’s current acting President Mabuka is, however, not contesting.