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'Nothing defeats unity and oneness'

23 Dec 2018 at 08:34hrs | Views
Problems and misunderstandings between Zanu and Zapu necessitated the Unity Accord of 22 December 1987.

After the 1980 elections, the then-Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe, incorporated members of Zapu into Government. But at some stage, there was a discovery of a weapons cache on some Zapu farms, which I believe created the crisis.

There were some arguments whether the weapons were known or not known and so on.

Government tried to clamp down on disturbances arising from the discovery of the arms cache and dissidents in the Matabeleland regions and Midlands.

Actually people don't know that the Unity Accord started almost by accident.

The late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, came to State House to see President Canaan Banana in the company of his brother, wife and his aunt.

He said "President Banana, I have come to bid you farewell, I have had enough, I cannot stay in this country."

They argued, as President Banana continued to insist "You cannot go anywhere, muri mudzimu weZimbabwe."

Dr Nkomo literally broke down. It was an emotional and moving moment.

And Banana for a moment alone with Nkomo. He told us later that he had spoken to Nkomo and had also phoned the Prime Minister (Mugabe).

This was a misunderstanding within the family, we are one family, we can talk as a family.

Although there was Zapu and Zanu, they were all the Patriotic Front when they were prosecuting the war, and Mugabe and Nkomo were joint leaders of the Patriotic Front.

So Banana said "look, guys, you are together and ideologically there is no difference between Zanu and Zapu, and there is nothing that we cannot talk and agree."

Basically, the advantage with Banana was the he was Zanu and Ndebele and his family was Zapu, so he was acceptable to both camps.

In fact, he had the advantage of being acceptable to both sides.

He played a crucial role in the talks because as far as they were concerned, he was an honest broker.

They - the two parties - formed their teams.

The Zapu team was led by Joseph Msika, John Nkomo and Thenjiwe Lesabe and quite a number of other people, while Zanu team was led by Simon Muzenda, Maurice Nyagumbo, Enos Nkala , (and) Munodawafa, among other people.

So President Banana usually would bring them together for discussions.

I was tasked to do the minutes of their discussions and give them to President Banana, who would look into them and forward them to Prime Minister Mugabe.

As principals, Zapu leader Nkomo and Zanu leader Mugabe would discuss progress made by their teams.

Serious talks started around March/April 1987 and dragged until the eventual signing of the Unity Accord in December 1987.

People don't realise that Nkomo and Mugabe went back a long way during the Zapu days when Mugabe served under Nkomo.

At a personal level, their relationship was cordial although the involvement of dissidents soured their relationship to some extent.

Even when Zapu people were expelled from Government, they remained Members of Parliament and they would regularly meet their Zanu counterparts in Parliament and State occasions.

I remember at one point in time when we were preparing Independence celebrations and deciding who should seat where, the Zapu people where accommodated.And these people would talk to each other outside Parliament.

Banana and Nkomo were also very close. Nkomo rarely called him President. He used to call him mfundisi. These relationships helped in preparing ground for the Unity Accord.

Basically, when we had the Government of National Unity (inclusive Government) between Zanu-PF and MDC, it was a totally different scenario with Zapu and Zanu (arrangement) because ideologically, it was one family, one ideology and one history as well.

The main issue basically was to unite the parties.

President Banana always said "look, when I read this situation, I don't see any problem between Mugabe and Nkomo, and the problem is coming from the lower ranks."

I remember at one point in time he said to Enos Nkala and Maurice Nyagumbo, "You are against the unity for the simple reason that if Nkomo comes, if Chinamano, Msika comes, they are higher than you - muchadzika in the hierarchy.

However, they both denied the allegations (of trying to derail the talks)

Before the 1985 elections, Nkala and Nyagumbo told then-Prime Minister that Zanu was going to win in Matabeleland because all the Zapu members we now on their side.

Then the intelligence guys came and requested to see the President.

They told the President that "mukutaurirwa makuhwa nana Nkala, people go to Zanu meetings in army trucks but they will walk by foot to Zapu meetings, they will not vote for Zanu."

Banana then brought that to Mugabe's attention, but Nkala insisted and said the President is not in touch.

Come election time, Zanu did not win a single seat in Matabeleland.

All the meetings were being held at State House. The working party - half Zanu and half Zapu - met at State House, and I would record the minutes of the meetings.

Then Zapu and Zanu principals - Mugabe and Nkomo - with President Banana and their teams would meet at Munhumutapa Offices. Willard Chiwewe was the secretary there.

Days preceding the signing of the Unity Accord were wonderful days, you could see the eagerness in the negotiating teams and the principals that they were determined to bring the people of Zimbabwe together.

You could sense even the general feeling amongst Zimbabweans, you could see that every Zimbabwean was looking forward to the day.

There were serious disturbances in the country and in some parts where the army was not present, these were no-go areas. The Unity Accord brought peace and relief to the people of Zimbabwe.

That was a dividend to the people of Zimbabwe, people would walk freely and do their business together without any disturbances.

It also brought the nation together.

People would plan together with one agenda, working in peace and unionism.

The previously expelled ministers of Zapu came back into Government, the likes of Joseph Msika, John Nkomo, Cephas Msipa and Chinamano all came back to Government.

It was no longer a them-and-us attitude, but people were now working together in peace for the development of the country.

Nothing defeats unity, nothing defeats oneness, and unity must come out from deep, shared values.

It's not something that you will coerce people to do.

Ideologically, you must have a common base, something that you share as one people. Differences are bound to be overcome if you have one goal.

So you can never develop industry and the economy without a peaceful environment. People must be free to go to their places of work, be free to go home after work and be free to engage in matters that are important.

Peace creates a shared sense of purpose. My message to the people of Zimbabwe is that unity is peace and peace has many dividends at personal, commercial and industrial level.

There are many dividends that accrue from peace, that accrue from unity, that accrue when people are singing from the same sheet.

Peace must be preserved at all costs, let us always cherish the effort that was invested to make us a united people.


Mr Clifford Sileya, who was the principal private secretary to the late former President, Canaan Banana, was speaking to The Sunday Mail reporter Norman Muchemwa on his recollections of circumstances surrounding Unity Day.

Source - zimpapers
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