Looking Back: Unity: What Zimbabweans say about pact

The Herald, December 24, 1987
ZIMBABWEANS from all walks of life, from peasant farmers to business directors, yesterday welcomed the Unity Agreement between Zanu (PF) and PF Zapu and all said they would do their best to make it work in practice.

A cross-section of Zimbabweans in Harare and the surrounding peasant and commercial farming areas were yesterday asked how they felt about the agreement and what they would do to make it work.

Almost all those questioned felt that the Agreement not only enhanced national unity, but would reduce bandit and dissident activity in the country, making it especially welcome.

At the signing of the Agreement at State House on Tuesday, President Banana, Cde Mugabe and Dr Joshua Nkomo all called upon Zimbabweans to make the agreement in both letter and spirit.

This is how Zimbabweans responded to the news:

In the outlying areas of Chinamhora and Domboshawa, where most had not yet received the newspaper, a quick glance at the staff copy brought on the smiles.

The youngest person interviewed, Kevin Midzi, a Grade Six pupil at Mutake School, said he was happy because for him, this meant there would no longer be war in Matabeleland.

Another NRZ worker, Mr David Mountford of Eastlea, Harare, said it was one of the best things that had ever happened in Zimbabwe and he hoped the world would recognise the achievement.

“It is the same thing as reconciliation and we made it work, so there should be no obstacle to unity in Zimbabwe.”

The manager of Grassroots Books Cde Paul Brickhill said, “The first thing I would practically do to help the unity work would be to fight against racism, tribalism and all things that divide the people, so that the country can develop its national liberation to the fullest extent.”

A Bulawayo Technical College student home for the holidays, Robert Mangwiro said, “We know now that we have one external enemy – the MNR. It is up to each party to explain the advantages of unity to its followers.”

Cde Chishamiso Kufakwashe, washing her blankets in a stream by the roadside in Chinamhora had not heard about the unity talks, but when she saw the picture of the two leaders with their hands joined, her face broke into smiles, “If they can do it, why can’t we?” she said.

An excited Bulawayo couple, Mr Richard and Mrs Gertrude Wilson who were visiting Harare yesterday said: “This is the best Christmas we have ever had.”

LESSONS FOR TODAY

When the environment is peaceful and there is unity of purpose, people can self-actualise and also realise their dreams.
Peace and unity are also the best ingredients for people to prosper, for, “without peace, there is no development, and without development, there is no peace.”

The African proverb that says, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”, shows the extent of how people become the major victims in any civil strife. This is why the generality of Zimbabweans welcomed the 1987 peace agreement. They wanted their lives back and also wanted to move on.
Peace agreements can only succeed when there is buy-in or support from the people, because people are the custodians of the power that leaders have.
It’s time Zimbabweans introspect on the unity and/or peace agreements that are signed by political leaders every few years.
For historical information contact:
Zimpapers Knowledge Centre at Herald House on:
+263 8677 004323;
+263 0242 795771
E-mail: knowledgecentre@zimpapers.co.zw

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