President Mnangagwa adjourned an ongoing meeting when he received news of liberation war icon Dr Dumiso Dabengwa’s death, a Cabinet minister has revealed. Affectionately known as “The Black Russian”, Dr Dabengwa died en route to Zimbabwe from India where he had been rushed for treatment.
Addressing mourners at Dr Dabengwa’s residence in Fourwinds, Bulawayo, yesterday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said President Mnangagwa immediately started dealing with pressing modalities to ensure a befitting send-off.
Minister Moyo said he idolised Dr Dabengwa and would interact with him on issues pertaining to the country.
“When President Mnangagwa received reports that Cde Dabengwa had died, he adjourned an ongoing meeting to deal with the tragedy.
“We worked together in Government as he was one of our seniors. So we knew that after he had spoken we would just follow orders. So we’ve a lost a senior person, whom we knew as a pioneer of the liberation struggle. In the past few years, whenever he was in Kwekwe we’d meet and discuss issues of national concern. We mourn him because a giant has fallen,” said Minister Moyo.
Deputy Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Cde Victor Matematanda said Dr Dabengwa was a true hero and often confided in him intimately on national development matters.
“I’m here to mourn a comrade, to mourn a commander, to mourn a revolutionary, to mourn a true hero. I’ve an attachment to Cde Dabengwa as I’ve been involved in quite a lot of dialogues with him, seeking advice.
“I’ve been involved in paying his bills to go to South Africa (for treatment), making follow ups all the time and realising that the effort hadn’t paid off, that’s when the President took over and directed that Government should send him to India. He’s such an icon, a person that has got history of the liberation of this country, impeccable and a strategist, a true hero,” said Cde Matematanda.
He said no one could take away Dr Dabengwa’s hero status, adding that the Government will always recognise those who made immense contributions towards liberation and development of the nation.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Bulawayo Cde Judith Ncube shed tears as she described Dr Dabengwa as a national leader whose national contributions have earned him respect across the country.
Her counterpart in Matabeleland South Cde Abednego Ncube said it was not just Dr Dabengwa’s family in mourning but the nation at large, as he touched so many people with his work.
Senior Zanu-PF officials including Cdes Tshinga Dube, Angeline Masuku and Absolom Sikhosana were also among the mourners. Cde Dube described Dr Dabengwa as a national hero but said due process will be followed before a decision is announced.
Dr Dabengwa’s family said they could not comment on his death as they are still waiting for most of his children who are out of the country.
The revolutionary Zanu-PF yesterday said it was saddened by the death of Dr Dabengwa who contributed immensely towards the attainment of independence.
“His shock departure has been received with bewilderment and dismay by the generality of our people across the country.
“The elephant has fallen. A giant has departed without ceremony leaving many hearts lacerated. His illustrious contribution to the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe is incontestable, so is his role post-independence,” secretary for information and publicity Cde Simon Khaya Moyo.
He hailed Dr Dabengwa’s immense contribution during the liberation struggle.
“He was a remarkable freedom fighter. A man of impeccable liberation war credentials. A leader of immense charisma, courage, dedication and enviable humility.
“He embraced even those who hated him. Political differences of opinion at any stage must never translate into enemity, and a weapon used to extinguish one’s history,” he said.
Ambassador Khaya Moyo said the late Dr Dabengwa always led from the front.
“He knew no tribe, region or race. He only knew humanity. A man of Cde Dabengwa’s attributes can never die, but can only depart for higher responsibility. He has left a legacy of selfless service to the people of Zimbabwe and to the cause of Pan-Africanism,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) spokesperson Douglas Mahiya described Cde Dabengwa as a rare breed of intelligent supremo during and after the liberation struggle.
Addressing a press conference in Harare, Cde Mahiya said the late Cde Dabengwa started his political activism in the early 1960s at a tender age.
“He received military training in Russia. He was referred to as Black Russia during the liberation struggle.
“With Dabengwa no political manoeuvre could be done by the enemy before he knows their next move,’’ he said.
In 2008, Cde Dabengwa contributed to the birth of the new dispensation through resisting state capture by the G40 cabal.
He participated at the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association meeting held at the City Sports Centre meant for the birth of the new dispensation.
“We did it with Dabengwa’s contribution. He deserves to be accorded the heroes status. It will be very difficult to replace him in our ranks as war veterans,” said Cde Mahiya.
Cde Dabengwa served as the Minister of Home Affairs for years and was also a member of the Zanu-PF Politburo until 2008, when he revived ZAPU party as its leader.
Besides his immense contribution to the liberation struggle, he was also an academic.
Cde Mahiya urged the nation to celebrate the life of the great leader.
Meanwhile, condolence messages continued to pour in following Dr Dabengwa’s death with MDC-T president Dr Thokozani Khupe describing him as an icon and true servant of the people.
“On behalf of myself and the Movement for Democratic Change, l would like to convey our heartfelt and deepest condolences to the people of Zimbabwe and in particular the Dabengwa family.
Indeed our Country, SADC Region, the African Continent and the broader international community at large have lost an icon, a true servant of the people,” said Dr Khupe.
She said Dr Dabengwa dedicated his life to the emancipation of his people against the brutal Ian Smith regime with courage and determination for a free and equal Zimbabwe.
Former Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive government, Professor Arthur Mutambara posted on Twitter: “On Dumiso Dabengwa A dedicated & resolute Pan-African freedom fighter, revolutionary & statesman – A commandeer of commanders; a hero of heroes. A founding father of both Zim & SA States; Unassuming, humble & immensely effective. DD was dignity, humility and greatness personified.”