via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Zapu Statement on Unity Day 22 December 2013 by Patrick Ndlovu, Zapu Secretary Bulawayo Province 21 December 2013
On the 22nd of December Zimbabwe will celebrate Unity Day. It is a day that is set aside annually to celebrate the national unity that purportedly exists in Zimbabwe. It is also significant that this year the holiday is kept when two momentous events took place in Zimbabwe and a tragedy befell Africa and the world. This year Zimbabwe signed into law its first constitution since independence 33 years ago. The fact that it took so long for the country to come up with its own constitution speaks volumes about the political climate in the country. Elections were also held for the first time under the dispensation of a home grown constitution. Both events were far from perfect and ideal, the first was felt to have too much state (read ZANU PF) influence and excluded the views of a significant proportion of the population notably Matabeleland which had spoken for a comprehensive devolution of power. The elections while touted by international observers as being peaceful fell far short of being free and fair. A voters roll that was in shambles and unavailable to all contesting parties and the hire of a shady Isreali firm all led to accusations that once again ZANU PF had stolen the elections and subverted the will of the people. On the 6th of December Africa and the world woke to the news that Nelson Mandela had passed away the previous night, while his ill-health was common knowledge and although there was a certainty of his mortality it was nonetheless a shock when he died. He declared famously at his inauguration that “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and the world, he can rest in peace”. He did his duty and more and surely deserves to rest in peace in his beloved hills of Qunu.
These events, singly or collectively, should be reason enough to celebrate unity in Zimbabwe. The first two because they signify unity of purpose by the population of the country and the third because no one doubts the role played by Madiba in the liberation of Zimbabwe, South Africa and the rest of the world. Sadly the day will pass unnoticed by the people of Zimbabwe whose unity will be purportedly celebrated.
The day has never in its 26 year history been considered as unifying ,it was at first a celebration by ZANU PF of its victory over PF ZAPU and the people of Matabeleland and Midlands who have since independence rejected the party. The leaders of PF ZAPU were dragged to the negotiating table at gunpoint with the corpses of 30 000 country men as a reminder that the finger on the trigger was willing to pull it on a further four million country men in their pursuit of total domination of the country. After the cessation of the slaughter no amends were attempted to correct whatever circumstances had led to the genocide to prevent another occurrence. The report of the commission set up to investigate the horror was never made public. Except for a plea of ‘temporary insanity’ or moment of madness no apology or redress has been forthcoming to the surviving victims and families of the victims. The country has not been told who lost their minds and murdered their fellow countrymen using state apparatus and what measures would be taken against the murderer. ZAPU has stated previously and does so now and will continue to state that the Unity Agreement signed in 1987 between them and ZANU PF was to prevent the wholesale slaughter of the people of Zimbabwe. It was and still is a bitter irony that after fighting the racist regime the freedom fighters would turn on the people they had ‘liberated’ and slaughter almost the same number as the casualties of the war.
The agreement was not a sign of any unity of purpose between the two parties and the content was only concerned with the power sharing arrangements of the two parties. Maybe that is why the document that supposedly brought peace and unity to the people of Zimbabwe has never been put on public display because its contents have nothing to do with the interests of the public who were not even consulted for their input in the drawing up of the agreement. People need to feel they have had some input in decisions that affect their lives and have to be consulted on deliberations that will ultimately affect the way they are governed. The most public document in the United States is their Declaration of Independence. It is on public display and copies are readily available online and anyone can access and read it at their own leisure. All this makes the citizens feel the document is truly theirs and the values contained therein are the guiding principles of their governance. The question we ask here is: what is so classified about the Unity Accord document that supposedly brought peace and unity to Zimbabwe that it has never seen the light of day? Is it because the ZANU PF government knows that the document contains nothing of the input of the most vital constituency of the country: ‘the people’. Is it because they know that the document is just a capitulation paper such as Hitler forced the French to sign at Vichy, just as they forced Nkomo and ZAPU to sign in Harare? ZAPU denounces that document and the so-called unity as nothing but a symbol of autocracy and a continuation of the repression of the masses by a regime concerned with holding onto power by all means fair and foul. Dr. Nkomo in his report to the Central Committee in 1984 declared: “We believe that the ZANU leadership today is concerned with only one matter – that of maintaining themselves in power. It is this obsession which is causing this government to lead Zimbabwe into one tragic crisis after another…”
That is why the people have continued rejecting ZANU PF, in the words of Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa: “…since the signing of the Unity Accord in December 1987, the people of Bulawayo feel they have not gained anything. The people have been saying what is the use of supporting ZANU PF and its candidates” (Sunday Mail, 2 July 2000).
The question might very well be asked what the people of Matabeleland and Midlands hoped to gain by the signing of the Accord other than the cessation of the killings. It should be remembered that during that period (1982 to 1987) those regions where in total lockdown. No schools, clinics, roads or hospitals where built, not a single growth point exists in Matabeleland to this day. Put shortly the region was forgotten in terms of development. After the signing of the Accord the people had the reasonable hope that they will begin to reap the rewards of independence like other provinces in the country. An important part of the struggle was the attainment of self determination and the control and exploitation of the country’s natural resources.
Self determination, not serfitude to a remote government. But what the people got out of independence was wholesale slaughter which they hoped would end with the signing of the Unity Accord. The result of the Unity Accord was rhetoric and more rhetoric about unity that put nothing on their tables. What the people got was more and more de-industrialisation of their regions under high sounding but zero content economic recovery programmes that benefitted the chosen few while impoverishing their regions. The people of Matabeleland have had to live with the bitterness of seeing their children denied admissions in the country’s higher learning institutions. They have had to live with the humiliation of needing interpreters atgovernment offices in their provinces as the officials cannot or will not speak their languages. To again quote Dr. Nkomo “…if in the civil service there are more people with black faces than white faces it will be because the nature of the country is such that there are more people with black faces than white faces…” The question the people of Gwanda, Plumtree, Bulawayo, Beitbridge and other places in Matabeleland are asking is: Is the nature of those places such that there are more people who speak Shona than the indigenous peoples of those areas to result in every government office being run by a Shona speaker? This is just one of the issues that the Unity accord was supposed to deal with but instead it has propagated it. Any wonder then that the people don’t feel any unity and will not celebrate it no matter how many full-page adverts in the print media and minutes of prime time television the parastatals, ZRP, ZPS and ZDF pay for congratulating themselves on the signing of the agreement. At least they have something to celebrate: their fat pay cheques and perks notwithstanding their shoddy and non-existent service delivery.
ZAPU pulled out of the Unity Agreement through a resolution taken at a Special Congress in 2009 but believes that is not a reason they should not be national unity in the country. “Brick by brick even if it should take many years, ZAPU’s political and ideological outlook guides the movement to an irreversible commitment to the unity of the people of Zimbabwe the total independence of Zimbabwe as a single entity” (Dr. J Nkomo, 1984). ZAPU believes that certain prerequisites should be achieved before national unity can exist in the country. Chief of these is the political will and commitment among the leaders to serve the country and not achieve personal glory. In this regard the memory of Madiba should be a standard that all leaders measure themselves against, probably not achievable but certainly worth striving for. The government should have policies that improve the basic services of the people such as health care, education, housing, employment creation and social security. Ubuntu should not just be a catchword but a practical and implementable concept in the government of the people. In a country such as Zimbabwe which has over 20 indigenous ethnic groups a policy that recognises and respects the diversity of this rich culture is of paramount importance. No single group should dominate the others either tacitly through a lack of clear policy from the government or openly through government corruption such as nepotism and deliberate political party deployment policy to dominate every sphere of life in the country.
ZAPU declares here and now that the atmosphere prevalent in the country now is not conducive for national unity. Instead there are grumblings of tribalism, regionalism, unequitable distribution of natural resources, nepotism, deliberate de-industrialisation of certain cities, partisan rewriting of the liberation struggle history. The people have nothing to show for the much touted National Unity except growing poverty and disease. They have nothing to celebrate of the blood sacrificed by their kinsfolk against the colonialist and spilt by the black government during gukurahundi. ZAPU lays the blame of this sad state of affairs in Zimbabwe squarely at the door of ZANU PF which has prostituted its duty and responsibility to govern justly at the altar of dictatorship.