WAR veterans association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya has defended late Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa's decision to dump Zanu PF in 2008 saying the former politburo member was wise enough to notice already that former President Robert Mugabe was leading the party astray.
Mahiya was addressing journalists in Harare on Friday following the death of the former Home Affairs Minister.
Dabengwa abandoned Zanu PF 2008 to revive liberation war movement, PF Zapu which went into a unity accord with Zanu in 1987.
"He (Dabengwa) noted the bad things in Zanu PF and the government as early as 2008. He didn't like the direction the revolutionary party was taking.
"He tried to do something about it and people called him names but he had seen it," said Mahiya.
The Zanu PF aligned mainstream war veterans association led by former Zimbabwean ambassador to China, Christopher Mutsvangwa had a nasty fall-out with its former patron and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe over Zanu PF succession issues.
The war veterans leaders were later alienated by the ex-leader when they openly rooted for then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe, who seemed, at the time, to be propping up his wife, Grace to succeed him.
For that, Mahiya said, Dabengwa showed he was a "force to reckon with" adding that war veterans owed the late Zipra intelligence chief "all the respect".
"... War veterans owe Cde Dabengwa all the respect he deserves as a commander, as a principled leader.
"We joined him and together we fought to remove Mugabe and bring in the new dispensation and he was part of it.
"He used to call us and we could consult and he could tell us what to do it, when to do it."
Commenting on Dabengwa's national hero status or lack of, Mahiya admitted Dabengwa commanded great respect for his liberation war contributions, adding that it was up to war veterans in Bulawayo to formally request he be declared one.
On Thursday, Dabengwa's party said the late veteran politician opened up to them he would not want to be buried at the national shrine because it was being politicised by Zanu PF.
Mahiya refused to be drawn into making any comments on that.