Nduduzo Tshuma Bulawayo Bureau
LIBERATION war icon and former Cabinet minister Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, who passed away last Thursday, has been declared a national hero.
Dr Dabengwa died en route to Zimbabwe from India where he had gone to seek medical treatment.
He was 79.
His family, led by his widow Zodwa, arrived at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport at midday yesterday.
The body of the Black Russian —as Dr Dabengwa was affectionately known — is expected to arrive in Bulawayo this morning.
After their arrival, Dr Dabengwa’s family held a meeting at the VIP lounge with Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who relayed the message on the national hero status.
VP Mohadi was accompanied by Zanu-PF national chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu, Secretary for Finance Cde Patrick Chinamasa and Secretary for Business Liaison Cde Sithembiso Nyoni.
Also present were Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube and Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, among other senior party members.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting with the Dabengwa family, VP Mohadi said the ex-Zipra intelligence supremo had been accorded the highest honour.
“The Government and the ruling party Zanu-PF, after they heard about the demise of our Cde Dumiso Dabengwa, we decided, we all agreed unanimously that he be conferred with the national hero status,” said VP Mohadi.
“So I have just come here to convey the message to the relatives. That is what we have done. He is going to be buried in the manner all other national heroes are interred.”
VP Mohadi said the family had indicated that Dr Dabengwa’s wish was to be buried in Ntabazinduna, Umguza District, in Matabeleland North.
“They indicated to us that he had said that he wanted to be buried next to his mother and as the Government we are not against that. We have done it before, (National University of Science and Technology founding Vice Chancellor) Professor (Phineas) Makhurane was buried in his homestead and (musician Oliver) Mtukudzi was also buried in his homestead,” said VP Mohadi.
“However, the Government will take over all the expenses and everything that is required towards the burial will be borne by the Government until the day he is interred.
“Unfortunately, the body could not come in this plane. We were told that the holding is very small so the body remained. We are making arrangements that his body is flown into Zimbabwe.”
The VP said Dr Dabengwa’s contribution to the liberation struggle was unquestionable.
“When I got to the struggle, he was the director of intelligence and that was the department I was under, so he was my commander. Thereafter, he was assigned to be the secretary for the revolutionary council then Ethan Dube took over. After Ethan disappeared — we don’t know where is up to now — he came back again and became my commander,” said VP Mohadi.
“He has been my commander not only in that sense but in the sense as well that he had been in the struggle before I joined the struggle as a Zipra.
“He belonged to everybody, he was a unifier, everybody loved him. Who didn’t love DD? We have got no problems whether he was now in a different party from my party but we were still buddies. The day or two before he left he said ‘wena mfana buya la (Lad, come here!).’ I was at State House, so he was calling me ‘mfana’ up to now, I was mfana.”
VP Mohadi vouched for the credentials of the late veteran.
“He is one of the people that people will never have questions about. He contributed immensely to the liberation of this country and his contribution is not questionable,” said VP Mohadi.