Home » Governance » Unity Accord – Let’s All Walk the Talk

Zimbabwe celebrates Unity Day on December 22, a day set aside by the Government to celebrate the coming together of former liberation movements, zanu-pf and PF Zapu on December 22, 1987. The signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 signalled the end of conflict that characterised the early years of independence. Our Senior Reporter Lovemore Ranga Mataire (LRM) speaks to zanu-pf Politburo member Dr Sikhanyiso Duke Ndlovu (SDN), a senior former ZAPU cadre who participated in the negotiations that culminated in the signing of the Unity Accord on December 22, 1987.

LRM: Dr Ndlovu, can you say that unity subsists in the country 22 years after the signing of the Unity Accord?

SDN: Unity still prevails in the country despite efforts from some quarters to destroy it. The purpose for unity is too big and too good to be easily destroyed.

LRM: Can you specify who you are referring to when you say “some quarters” are bent on destroying unity?

SDN: You know there are a number of people trying to neglect unity by doing their own thing. But if I say so it would open a Pandora’s box and it would appear that I am talking about unity simply to denounce certain people. Unity is greater than anybody who does not wish good for the nation. As long as we are there the spirit of unity still prevails. I am also urging people to cherish unity and also highlight that some are not sincere about unity. They just talk by word of mouth but do nothing to show that they are serious about unity. How can one be an aocate for unity when as a Cabinet minister you appoint all the directors in your ministry from your tribe and neglect people from other regions?

LRM: Dr Ndlovu, how do you respond to sentiments that the Unity Accord has now become redundant and that the nation must not be held hostage by a pact signed by leaders of two political parties?

SDN: There are some who are saying so but that argument comes from people who are disgruntled because they say some people preach unity in vain while marginalising other people on the basis of tribe or the region they come from. Unity was brought about by the coming together of both Zanu and PF Zapu and if you neglect people on the basis that they are former members of Zapu then those people won’t feel emotionally attached to unity. We must take practical steps in cementing this unity. I am also concerned that you as journalists only talk to people from Matabeleland and I don’t know how many people you have interviewed in Harare who are talking about unity.

LRM: Some people in Matabeleland still feel economically marginalised because of what they perceive as unbalanced development. Is this reflective of the situation on the ground and what can be done to ensure the results of unity cascade down to all the country’s regions?

SDN: That’s why I am saying that there are some people who talk about unity but are not sincere. A recent saddening development is the appointment of about 70 ambassadors with no single one of them from Matabeleland and when we talk about it some people are quick to label us tribalists. How can it be tribal when we are asking for a balanced equation so that our people also benefit from unity? It is small thinking for anyone to accuse us of being tribalists when we say that there are people who come all the way from Harare to take jobs here. We are now old enough, senior citizens and revolutionaries who are concerned about these things.

LRM: Who are you apportioning blame for such an imbalance?

SDN: If it is a ministry that ministry must be aware that they are there because of the unity that prevails in the country even companies must be conscious of the need to foster that unity. We are fed up with such cheap talk. We want unity, Nkomo is still speaking about unity and Mugabe is talking about unity and it is time that their words are put to practicality.

LRM: What can you tell the so-called “Born-frees” in terms of the background historical information that precipitated the Unity Accord?

SDN: Not just the “Born-frees” but the adults as well. It is everyone’s duty to talk about unity. After we liberated this country together – PF Zapu and Zanu, we formed the first Government and also unified all our military units. After one year of independence, a few ZIPRA cadres who had joined Government and the army felt that they were being ill-treated and said that they were going back to the bush. You must know that Nkomo did not support this desertion. The Government then unleashed the army in Matabeleland to quell what became known as dissidents. A number of people lost their lives and Nkomo had to leave the country he had so gallantly fought for. In order to stop the infighting, Nkomo said let’s sit down as citizens so that we stop upheavals. That’s when negotiations started. It was a home-grown negotiation process without any mediators from outside the country and we came up with an agreement to form one party, which agreement took note of the fact that Zimbabwe’s liberation was brought by two liberations movements – Zanu and PF Zapu.

LRM: So how do you then response to the argument that the 1987 Unity Accord was a unity of two political parties and not the whole nation?

SDN: That is not correct. I was part of the whole process. You think we would call for a congress of 6 000 people to brief them of the unity and later sent emissaries to all the provinces to tell people that this unity was not just a unity between Nkomo and Mugabe or the unity between Zapu or Zanu but the unity of all people. The young people must be conscious that this unity did not come on a silver platter.

LRM: In that vein what legacy can Zimbabweans derive from the late Dr Joshua Nkomo?

SDN: Nkomo’s legacy is that of selflessness, magnanimity and the need to put the nation first before self. Nkomo was a critical thinker and focused. His legacy is that someone must think twice before shedding the blood of anybody. President Mugabe has said that what happened in Matabeleland was an act of madness, which means we all feel that it was a regrettable chapter in our history. Nkomo made the nation realise that we can always solve our problems through peaceful means.

LRM: Lastly, you have mentioned about the Unity Accord as a home-grown solution to a local problem. What lessons do you think the region and Africa can learn from the unity, peace and stability that exist in the country because of the Unity Accord?

SDN: I think the region or even the world can borrow a leaf from what happened in Zimbabwe. I am sure the other nations envy Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are peaceful, what they need is sustenance to support them. Look at what is happening in other countries like DRC, Darfur and Nigeria?

The failure of peace in these countries is because of foreign mediation. We can find solutions as citizens of the same country and realise that the things that divide us are so peripheral than things that unite us. One thing that they can also learn from Zimbabwe is that citizens must own their means of production. In Zimbabwe we embarked on the land reform and our indigenisation laws are also meant for us to have a stake in the management and exploitation of our resources.

Source : The Herald

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