Opposition slams Unity Day over Gukurahundi

HARARE - Opposition politicians have said there was nothing to celebrate on Unity Day following Zanu PF’s failure to sincerely address the Gukurahundi atrocities.

The atrocities and human rights violations that were perpetrated in Matabeleland and Midlands by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crush rebellion by ex-Zapu guerrillas culminated in the 1987 Unity Accord between President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu and the late Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu.

Government forces are accused of killing thousands of civilians in the crackdown.

In 1987, Mugabe and Zapu’s Joshua Nkomo signed a Unity Accord, leading to the integration of PF-Zapu and Zanu PF. Mugabe subsequently amended the independence constitution, and abolished the post of prime minister and became executive president with sweeping powers.

Unity Day has been celebrated annually on December 22, but several Zimbabweans still believe more needs to be done in the process of healing and reconciliation, which many Zanu PF members said is a closed chapter.

Former co-minister of National Healing and Reconciliation and ex-combatant Moses Mzila-Ndlovu retraced the Unity Accord and the Gukurahundi narrative, stating the issue needs to be addressed without fail in order for the country to move on peacefully.

“We have dismally failed to achieve unity or reconciliation because we have failed to build a nation ever since 1980 and therefore I place this failure on the doorsteps of Zanu PF and its leaders,” Mzila-Ndlovu said.

The war veteran said people must not be deceived by the seemingly calm situation in the country as the majority are hurting, adding that the consequences for the failure to build a nation and foster reconciliation are palpable.

Mzila-Ndlovu said the situation will however not last forever.

“At some point, the lid on the boiling pot will explode,” Mzila-Ndlovu said, adding that there is no sincerity from the Zanu PF leaders to deal with the issues that are affecting the various racial groups in Zimbabwe.

“It’s high time we confront the issue. By confronting the issue, I mean, the need to accept that there was genocide in Matabeleland and Midlands. At the moment, the victims of Gukurahundi continue to suffer the consequences, while Zanu PF pretends all is well. All is not well, that nightmare must be addressed by allowing people to speak about it,” he said.

The former minister said that the Gukurahundi issue is not a closed chapter, contrary to some Zanu PF stalwarts’ beliefs.

He said the perpetrators of Gukurahundi must be brought to book in order for proper healing and reconciliation to take place.

“The so-called unity that people are celebrating was written by the blood of the people of Matabeleland and Midlands. The ink was the blood of the people of Matabeleland and Midlands. For Zanu PF to expect the people of this region to begin to see this episode as a bygone is an illusion. They are hoping that this issue will go away, it will not go away,” he said.

He further said that Matabeleland is still marginalised in terms of development, employment and was still being treated unequally with counterparts from Mashonaland.

Another ex-combatant and fierce Mugabe critic, who is also a senior member of the Joice Mujuru-led Zimbabwe People First, Rugare Gumbo, said there is nothing to celebrate about the Unity Accord.

The former Zanu PF stalwart said that people must focus on relevant issues affecting the country instead of talking about unity in a divided society like Zimbabwe.

“On reflection this day is no longer relevant. It should have been relevant in the 80s. What is important is to look at what the future holds for the people of Zimbabwe. We must focus on the important issues. The unity we want is to bring change. There is no reconciliation to talk about when we are divided as a country.”

“People are united on one thing that Mugabe must go so that we open a new chapter. Wherever we go, whoever we see says the Zanu PF regime has to go because it has caused the suffering of the people,” Gumbo said, adding that Zanu PF itself is divided along tribal and ethnic lines.

Commenting on the 29th anniversary of the Unity Accord, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC’s spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi, said there is no unity worth celebrating in Zimbabwe, adding that the Unity Day is instead a day to remember the 20 000 civilians that were massacred during the civil strife.

“There is no unity to celebrate for Zimbabweans because of the irreparable damage done by Robert Mugabe. We can only use this day to remember the innocent sons and daughters who were butchered by the army after independence,” he said.

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