Ambivalence over Unity Day commemorations

Source: Ambivalence over Unity Day commemorations – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 22, 2017

VARIOUS political parties yesterday expressed different views on the significance of today’s Unity Day, with the opposition claiming the day has long lost its significance, while the ruling Zanu PF said all Zimbabweans should honour it.


This comes as others view the day as an opportunity for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to push for reconciliation and closure of the unresolved Gukurahundi massacres.

The day is meant to commemorate the signing of the unity deal between former rivals, Zanu PF and PF Zapu in 1987.

“In all honesty, Unity Day is now effectively an anachronism and there is no need to have a public holiday set aside to commemorate the unity between Zanu and PF Zapu,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“What should be done is to simply take note of the day by the parties concerned and not really declare a national holiday.

Zimbabwe is not a one-party State.”

People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the day should be rebranded to remember victims of Gukurahundi.

“The day is still relevant because lack of unity has caused irreparable harm to Zimbabwe,” he said.

“However, instead of celebrating the unity of elites or political leaders, we should rebrand the day to a memorial one, where we remember victims of Gukurahundi and others who suffered politically-motivated violence post-independence so that we never forget what conflict does to the nation.

“Victims of the pre-independence period are remembered on Independence Day and Heroes’ Day.”

MDC spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said Zimbabweans were too divided to celebrate Unity Day.

“The Zanu PF Unity Day is meaningless to many Zimbabweans. The PF Zapu and Zanu pact collapsed immediately after the signing ceremony. We are not aware of any valid unity agreed,” he said.

“We don’t recognise or respect Zanu PF internal deals. We are not peeping Toms. A lot of things went wrong after the signing ceremony and Unity Day is no longer significant to anyone in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the day was an opportunity for those responsible for Gukurahundi to own up and seek peace and closure to the matter.

“The only way to keep the day meaningful is to conflate it with Gukurahundi victim commemorations because that is really what it is. It’s the day that we hope Emmerson Mnangagwa will shift his conciliation gear from the ‘moment of madness’ to the madness acknowledgment mode,” he said.

Another activist, Farai Maguwu, described the day as cosmetic, claiming the majority no longer attached any significance to it.

“It’s cosmetic unity because the people are hurting. Unity is a good thing, but ‘unity’ and ‘peace’ are the most abused words in the world. Politicians ironically use these words to attain the opposite,” he said.

However, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said Unity Day being a public holiday that alone tells the story that it was very important for everyone in Zimbabwe.

“Anybody who thinks the day is not worth celebrating is obviously not quite clear about the ethos of our liberation struggle that brought about our independence. This Unity Accord must always be celebrated and there must never be any betrayal of it.

We are all committed to it and we cannot see us failing to bring our people together for the war against economic emancipation,” he said.