By Benjamin Chivandire and Wallace K. Musakanya
December is a crucial and sacred month in Zimbabwe, not so much for the highly celebrated religious event that is Christmas, but because of some fundamental political changes that marked a turning point in the country’s political and historical trajectory.
After more than five years of mayhem and turmoil in the early 1980s, the two main nationalist parties — ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU — decided to put their differences aside in pursuit of peace and unity.
After attaining Independence in 1980, it is pertinent to note that Zimbabwe’s political landscape went through a test of time marred by political violence, which involved these two liberation movements in the Matabeleland and part of the Midlands provinces.
Political differences, which were evident even at the 1979 Lancaster House Conference, created more problems in the then newly independent Zimbabwe.
As such, there was need to safeguard and find a cure for the national crisis; either retaliation or civil disobedience were not the solutions. The cure was unity.
Against this background, the two statesman, former President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF and the late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, affectionately known as “Father Zimbabwe” of PF-ZAPU signed the Unity Accord on December 22, 1987.
Hence, ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU merged and formed a united political front, which became known as ZANU-PF, with the mantra of preaching unity of purpose for the betterment of Zimbabwe, which three decades down the line we still celebrate.
The signing of the Unity Accord marked the emergence of a united front between the two revolutionary parties and a social contract among Zimbabweans which the colonial master had tried to eradicate through the divide and rule strategy.
This event marked and shaped Zimbabwe’s identity as a nation since prior to the Unity Accord, citizens chose to identify themselves according to the political garment they decided to wear as well as their ethnic backgrounds.
That is why violence was mainly unleashed between ZANU-PF (dominated by the Shona) and PF-ZAPU(dominated by the Ndebele).
With the signing of the Unity Accord, the national “identity crisis” was solved.
This was because political affiliation and ethnicity where ruled out as criteria for identifying and locating individuals.
The same spirit that possessed the two leading statesmen former President Mugabe and the late Vice President Dr Nkomo into signing the Unity Accord is also manifesting in the present day Zimbabwe.
The Unity Accord set a precedence on the political landscape of Zimbabwe, with citizens copying and pasting the traits of this unforgettable peace settlement to eradicate and thwart individuals, who might be seen as stumbling blocks to national unity.
This was evidenced by the November 2017 Operation Restore Legacy, which was a military intervention supported by the general populace, marking an end to the Robert Mugabe regime, and the notorious G40 led by the former First Lady Grace Mugabe and supported by opportunistic politicians, among them Professor Jonathan Moyo, Kudzanai Chipanga, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao.
Citizens saw the capture of former President Mugabe by the G40 cabal and his wife as a threat to national development, since kleptocracy, corruption and nepotism became the order of the day.
Because the spirit of national unity and patriotism was burdened, citizens marched in their thousands, if not millions across the country in solidarity with Operation Restore Legacy, fully spirited with unity.
War veterans are also important individuals, whose immense sacrifices and contribution to the Independence of this country, as well as fostering unity is worth noting.
Their role in the liberation struggle is forever cherished and appreciated.
Many among them lost life and limbs, dropped out from school, had their families on the Smith regime’s firing line.
The loss of our land to the colonialist oppressor was forever a pain in their hearts.
One only has to think of the atrocities committed at Chimoio and Nyadzonia to reflect on the liberation fighters’ sacrifices.
War veterans are the vanguards of the struggle and the nation’s the torch bearers; and, therefore, must lead by example through advocating a culture of unity.
In doing so, just like other citizens, they have to rally behind the elected leader, President Mnangagwa, to ensure that his robust economic policies become a success story.
This will enable the foundation of national unity laid on December 22, 1987 to be buttressed and safeguarded.
Unity! Unity! Unity!
Source: The Herald