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Page last updated at 18:41 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Officials quit Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF

Dumiso Dabengwa (L) gets a hug from Simba Makoni at the launch of their presidential campaign, at a rally in Bulawayo
Dumiso Dabengwa (l) backed Simba Makoni (r) in March's presidential polls

Five senior officials from Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party have resigned amid attempts to revive a defunct liberation movement, Zapu.

The officials are from Matabeleland in the south, the base for Zapu until it merged with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu to form Zanu-PF in 1987.

The five are teaming up with former Interior Minister Dumiso Dabengwa.

He resigned from Zanu-PF in March and is trying to revive Zapu with war veterans from his Ndebele ethnic group.

"I am leaving Zanu-PF and I'm going back to my roots, which is Zapu," Effort Nkomo, one of the five who are resigning, confirmed on Wednesday..

Mr Nkomo was the information chief of the party in Matabeleland and his resignation from Zanu-PF has left the party on the verge of collapse in the province, says Zimbabwean journalist Themba Nkosi.

Fifth Brigade

Among the others to resign are Andrew Ndlovu and Tryphine Nhliziyo, the Zanu-PF's deputy information and publicity secretaries in Matabeleland.

Zimbabwe is facing political deadlock and economic collapse after disputed presidential elections earlier this year.

Negotiations between Mr Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have stalled over how to divide up ministries in a power-sharing government.

Mr Dabengwa backed Simba Makoni, leader of an opposition splinter group, in this year's elections.

Two weeks ago, President Mugabe was reported to have sent some of his party leaders to Matabeleland to persuade Mr Dabengwa to return to the party.

Mr Dabengwa still commands lot of respect among the Ndebele - the second largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe after the Shona of Mr Mugabe.

Themba Nkosi says the president feared that Mr Dabengwa would convince other senior Zanu-PF leaders in the province to follow his example.

The Ndebele people have long been hostile to Mr Mugabe's government.

In the early 1980s, shortly after independence, Mr Mugabe sent his notorious Fifth Brigade troops to Matabeleland, where they were accused of killing thousands of civilian supporters of the then-opposition Zapu party.

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