By Farayi Machamire
Liberation struggle stalwart and Zapu leader, Dumiso Dabengwa, says today’s commemorations of Unity Day are a farce that only serve to remind Zimbabweans of the gross misrule of the past 35 years by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF.
In a statement that he released yesterday as Zimbabwe marks 28 years since the Unity Accord was signed between Mugabe and the late revered nationalist Joshua Nkomo, Dabengwa also accused Zanu PF of perpetually playing the politics of divide and rule.
The unity pact put an end to the slaughter of an estimated 20 000 of innocent civilians by the army mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early 1980s — in a much-criticised operation that was known as Gukurahundi.
Soon after the unity pact was signed, Nkomo — who until then had been treated as an enemy of the State — was Christened “Father Zimbabwe”, a name which Dabengwa believes was a cynical moniker for the then Zapu leader.
“The colonial regime divided people according to race and class, and it also promoted a strategy of divide and rule among the black people.
“In the post-independence era, a perverted practice of rule and divide has been employed, manifested most dramatically by the infamous Gukurahundi ethnic massacre of the 1980s which targeted Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
“When that is commemorated … you should remember it as a lasting reminder of how hunger for unchallenged power can needlessly lead to the criminal slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people.
“It is only after this humiliation that the doyen of Zimbabwe nationalism was referred to as ‘Father Zimbabwe’ in the ruling establishment.
“This tongue-in-cheek award of the title, and selective recognition of national heroes, is a permanent mark of bad faith of the Zanu PF regime,” Dabengwa said in his statement.
He added that it was “unfortunate” that the country’s promising start at independence had quickly withered under Mugabe and Zanu PF’s 35 years in power.
“The country is facing unprecedented hardships brought on by over 35 years of Zanu PF’s battering of the economy and integrity of State structures.
“Even the few years of the hybrid Government of National Unity (GNU) failed to reverse this decline because Zanu PF retained real power while ostensibly sharing it with MDC-T and MDC,” Dabengwa said.
With more than 80 percent of the country’s population unemployed, and the country still divided along ethnic lines, he said there was need for a policy review if the country was to realise its full potential.
“Zimbabwe is experiencing economic hardships and facing a potentially disastrous post-harvest season, if indeed there will be anything to harvest in many parts of the country.
“In these circumstances, there is a big role for Zapu, a party that was formed to spearhead the aspirations of Zimbabweans and to defend equality and dignity for all the country’s people.
“I should also say that the consequent downward spiral and de-industrialisation of areas like Bulawayo is now history. However, this statement is wrong because we are still living the nightmare,” Dabengwa said.
The former Zanu PF politburo member, who left the party in disgust in 2008 to revive Zapu, has consistently criticised his erstwhile comrades in the manner they have allegedly reduced the once-prosperous nation to a basket case.
“Zapu and like-minded Zimbabweans have to bring about this change and not look for answers from those that have failed the country and are looking increasingly fractious and less and less able to provide even palliative solutions.
“Instead of trying to restore confidence, rent-seeking elements in the ruling establishment are embroiled in the culture of corruption and easy acquisition of assets without fear of legal sanction,” Dabengwa said.
The former Home Affairs minister also said the structural regression of the economy over the last 15 years was a reality that could no-longer be denied by “anybody sane, including those in the ruling party”.
“Zapu considers that the interests of the country and its people should not be the object of party political expediency.
“This is a core ideal among the objectives we fought for in the anti-colonial struggle and in the struggle for political and economic security of Zimbabweans.
“The country’s resources should not be used as a political football for dribbling political adversaries and enriching those that toe the line.
“More than ever before, the last few months of 2015 have demonstrated the depth to which the country has been sunk into political and economic despondency and desperation by the Zanu PF regime,” Dabengwa said.
“Internal turmoil has spilled over into the whole establishment and the centre can no longer hold. A comprehensive transformation is needed, one that builds on people’s economic, social and political agendas.
“Zimbabwe has a major task ahead to translate the current macro-economic stability into higher GDP growth through acceleration of private investment.
“In the face of economic hardship and uncertain rains this planting season, you should strive to retain a generous spirit. Only those who sow hatred and misery will glory in the suffering of others,” he added. Daily News