VETERAN nationalist and opposition Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa is fretting over his continued stay at the helm of the opposition party, as a congress draws close, amid reports two of his lieutenants are ready to challenge him.
Zapu national secretary for information, Mjobisa Noko confirmed to Southern Eye in an interview that the party’s congress has been set for December after having been forced to postpone it due to financial constraints.
“It is true, we are getting ready for our congress and we have set December 18 to 21 as the dates, we will convene to elect a new leadership,” he said.
Noko said the party’s provincial structures had completed electing their new leaders and will now begin the process of nominating people for Zapu’s top posts.
“We are done with the provinces and they are now meeting to make nominations for the top posts including the presidency. For us every position is open for contestation,” he said.
Former Home Affairs minister, Dabengwa has led Zapu since it broke ranks with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in 2008.
Dabengwa argued that the Unity Accord signed between Mugabe and former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo was skewed in favour of the former Zanu side.
In the run-up to the 2013 elections, Dabengwa reportedly asked the party to “find a candidate”.
“He said he was tired and wanted someone a bit younger to represent the party.We could not come up with one, hence,we only took part in the parliamentary polls as well as the council ones,” a close source revealed.
Asked if the 75-year-old former Zipra intelligence supremo would contest for the presidency, Noko said it was up to the membership of the party to decide.
“Our people know the processes and channels. We are a democratic party and it is up to the membership of the party to use congress to decide who leads them in the next five years,” he said.
While Dabengwa was not available for comment, a senior Zapu member said the veteran nationalist was willing to step down if the party found an alternative.
“He is willing to step aside and be an adviser to the party’s leadership if a new leader is found,” the insider said.
“There are two people who have shown interest in the presidency, Ralph Mguni [secretary-general] and Thulani Nkala (theUnited Kingdom spokesperson), but they will have to be nominated by a province.”
Mguni and Nkala are both based in the UK, with the secretary-general having come under heavy criticism for refusing to “come home and be hands on”.
“Nkala has already begun campaigning, although he is yet to be nominated.
He has nominated himself and that would likely have him disqualified because it is against our constitution,” another insider said.
Noko refused to discuss who was likely to contest.
“They will be announced in due course,” was all he said.