BY NIZBERT MOYO/ PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
THE opposition Zapu party and political analysts have described the Unity Day holiday as a commemoration that has lost relevance as it no longer reflects the tenets of the unity accord which was signed in 1987.
They said government should first solve the issues of national peace and reconciliation pertaining to the Matabeleland and Midlands victims of the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s.
Acting Zapu president Isaac Mabuka told the Southern Eye in an interview that it was better for the holiday to be changed to Gukurahundi Victims Day, to remember the 20 000 lives lost during the massacres.
The remarks come as the country prepares to commemorate the Unity Day, which is celebrated every year on December 22.
The day was declared a national holiday as a result of the Unity Accord which was signed on December 22, 1987 by two political parties, Zanu, which was then, led by the late former President Robert Mugabe, and Zapu which was led by the late former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.
Mabuka said the Unity Day celebrations could only have relevance if they reflected that the day was being celebrated to mark an official end to the mass killings of innocent civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands.
“We prefer a Unity Day which does not coincide with the signing of the unity accord by Mugabe and Nkomo,” Mabuka said.
“Unity Day is no longer relevant to us as Zapu and I do not see how it is linked to the Unity Accord signing,” Mabuka said.
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said the Unity Day should be changed to a day to remember the victims of the Gukurahundi.
“How can Unity Day be memorable when it was born out of the suffering of innocent people who were tortured, raped, and over 20 000 civilians were massacred by those who were against multi-party democracy? They were killed in order to have a one party State,” Fuzwayo said.
“It is of no relevance to us as it is an important day to them, born out of the blood of innocent citizens killed by their government,” he said.
Human Rights Activist Effie Ncube said there was nothing worth celebrating on Unity Day as the commemorations had no meaning.
“This is because the government has not addressed the key issues which were supposed to be addressed by the Unity Accord, and one of them is the 1980s Gukurahundi genocide. Everything is still outstanding in terms of national peace and reconciliation, and compensation of victims of the genocide. Government has not addressed anything to that extent, so there is nothing worth celebrating,” Ncube said.
He added: “Unity Day should be a day to mourn the victims of Gukurahundi. We should also mourn the standard of living which has deteriorated since Gukurahundi. There is loss of jobs, poverty and hunger. That is why we cannot celebrate.”
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