What exactly is being celebrated via the Unity Day?

Zimbabweans have a constitutional right to celebrate the Unity Day every 22nd of December if they so wish, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation of the 1980s Matabeleland victims of the State sanctioned Gukurahundi atrocities.

Here is today’s reality of Matabeleland’s position on the Unity Accord celebrations. Many of us cannot see the appeal of travelling all the way to public stadiums and other public host centres to celebrate the 22nd of December yearly event. Matabeleland just cannot identify with the focus of the event as it stands now.

There is no moral justification for Matabeleland nationals who lost their loved ones, had their rights, freedoms and liberties snuffed out to be celebrating with ZANU PF, the very organisation that conquered under the banner of unity. What is there to celebrate after laying one’s rights on the altar of the oppressor?

It is politically disconcerting that the Zimbabwean government remains deaf to the concerns of Matabeleland nationals. What we have been witnessing over the years is a government increasingly intemperate in its actions towards Matabeleland nationals. This persistent impetuous attitude of the state is mind-boggling. Has the government ever carefully thought of what the 22nd of December celebrations mean and how they affect Matabeleland nationals?

Surely, the unnecessary slaughter of thousands of unarmed civilians cannot be reduced into a national annual celebration event; that is inappropriate as much as it is insensitive.

As alluded to earlier, Matabeleland is left casting a forlorn figure in that ill-advised celebration. Perhaps many in Matabeleland will identify with the day if its ultimate focus were to be the commemoration of the slain innocent civilians and not mere celebration of the self-serving sanctification of ZANU PF historic barbarism that effectively imposed ‘peace’ on broken pieces of Matabeleland hearts.

Without tangible action on the ground reflective of genuine regret of the Gukurahundi atrocities by the state, Unity Day continues to be a reminder of the callousness of the State to the people of Matabeleland and a conquest symbol to ZANU PF. One may even argue that the ‘legal’ Unity Accord celebrations are an informal threat to would be voices of dissent within Matabeleland and a reminder of what the state is capable of whenever its interests are threatened.

ZANU PF should not shy away from redressing its past and, the most appropriate way is to address the manifestations of the legacy of tribalism in our time. The government needs to seek a discernible, traceable, and quantifiable responsibility to Matabeleland nationals.

Going forward, the process of reparations, and truth and reconciliation discussions which were extremely helpful foundational platforms for peace in Germany and South Africa should be adopted and taken seriously. We want a much broader public involvement in the discovery of the meaning of life for Matabeleland nationals in the 1980s in a supposedly independent Zimbabwe and into the future.

What we require, at the least, is a proper response from the government of its role in the Gukurahundi murders. Reparations should be provided by the ZANU PF majority government responsible for the murders, socioeconomic and political devastation in Matabeleland. ZANU PF’s Western allies, particularly the UK should take some responsibility for not reigning in Robert Mugabe’s government when they clearly could have done so.

The Unity Accord of 1987 is an unethical and unequal partnership between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU elite. The ‘peace’ achieved by the agreement was never negotiated with the ordinary men and women but imposed by ZANU PF; PF ZAPU’s token contribution to the arrangement was nothing short of a surrender to a bunch of arrogant and ignorant tribal thugs.

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