SENIOR STAFF WRITER
AS THE country commemorated Unity Day yesterday, the ruling Zanu PF implored Zimbabweans to shun violence and unite to foster enduring peace and national development, the Daily News reports.
At the same time, the former liberation movement praised the government for stepping up its efforts to bring closure to the highly emotive Gukurahundi saga.
This comes as there have been growing calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to lead national dialogue that includes the opposition, civil society groups and the church, among other key stakeholders.
In a statement yesterday, Zanu PF also said it was committed to ensuring that there was unity among Zimbabweans — irrespective of political or religious persuasion.
“Zanu PF calls upon those who exist to cause disunity, instability, violence or provoking tribal hostility to shun those tendencies and embrace dialogue in the spirit of unity bequeathed to us by our founding luminaries.
“As Unity Day marked the end of regrettable disturbances which were unfolding in the southern provinces, Zanu PF commends President ED Mnangagwa and government … for … their tireless efforts and bravery in engaging the Matabeleland Collective, chiefs, churches, civic society, affected individual families and youths, to bring finality on the emotive Gukurahundi issue.
“Most importantly, Zanu PF congratulates … Cde Mnangagwa for his continued resilience in consolidating the gains of the Unity Accord and fostering the spirit of unity and dialogue through the creation of the Polad platform, to ensure that dialogue becomes the cornerstone of our modern democracy,” the party said.
On Monday, Mnangagwa also rallied Zimbabweans against toxic politics — which he said should become a thing of the past.
“Peace-building, conflict-resolution and management must remain a binding feature of our national development agenda.
“Where there are differences, we must aim to settle and resolve them through dialogue and engagement.
“Further guided by our national Constitution, heritage and traditional value systems, toxic politics and divisive tendencies have no room in our society. By and large, we are a peaceful people and nation.
“My administration has the political will and boldness to confront the past and bring about healing and closure,” Mnangagwa said in his Unity Day address to the nation.
This came as Sibangilizwe — the son of the revered late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo — exhorted authorities to work harder to unite Zimbabweans, so that the country can continue to move forward as one.
Zimbabwe celebrated Unity Day yesterday — the historic occasion when Zanu PF and PF Zapu sealed a peace accord in 1987, which ended the Gukurahundi killings that left an estimated 20 000 civilians dead, mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early to mid-1980s.
Speaking to the Daily News in the wake of growing polarisation in the country, Sibangilizwe said authorities needed to use a bottom up approach to unite the people of Zimbabwe.
“First of all, let’s revisit the Unity Accord. What was it all about? It was meant to stop a terrible situation that was happening in the country.
“Some say it was a surrender document, but it was not because there was no war. There was a genocide.
“That’s when someone with a sober mind like Dr Nkomo had to step in to stop the killing of innocent people, which included children and women,” Sibangilizwe told the Daily News in reference to the Gukurahundi killings.
“What is needed from our leaders is to truly unite the people of Zimbabwe from the grassroots, not starting from top down. That will not work.
“Gukurahundi brought fear among people. So, it’s not easy to unite people who are in fear,” he added.
Before the Unity Accord was signed, PF ZAPU had been accused of fomenting violence and leading an insurrection in the southern region soon after the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.
An estimated 20 000 people are said to have been killed in the disturbances when the government deployed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to quell the insurrection.
Despite the Unity Accord, the Gukurahundi saga has remained an emotive issue, especially in Matabeleland.
This comes as Mnangagwa and his administration have recently stepped up their efforts to bring closure to the sad chapter.
Apart from facilitating the re-burial of victims, the government has also committed itself to providing birth and death certificates to the children and relatives of the affected people who — for decades now — have been facing insurmountable hurdles at the Registrar General’s offices.
The process of exhuming the bodies saw the first ceremony being held at Sipepa village in Tsholotsho — where villagers witnessed the interring of Justin Tshuma and his wife Thembi’s remains.