Thursday, December 22, 2016

Working Towards Unity of Purpose in Zimbabwe
December 22, 2016

In signing the Unity Accord, both President Mugabe and the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo recognised the importance and purpose of unity

Christopher Farai Charamba
Zimbabwe Herald

Unity is viewed as a prerequisite to success. Many thinkers, authors and personalities have expressed this position. The Latin writer Publilius Syrus wrote around 46 BC “where there is unity there is always victory”. “All for one and one for all, united we stand, divided we fall,” are the words of French author of The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas. The British author JK Rowling wrote, “we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

A poignant comment on unity are the words of the two-time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

The importance of unity can never be overstated, particularly for nations that are developing. National unity does not solely mean that the people should get along, but there should be a unity of purpose among them; there should be a vision that unites the people and that they all recognise as what they are aspiring to.

Today marks 29 years since the Unity Accord between ZANU and ZAPU was signed, giving birth to Zanu-PF. It was an agreement that came about after a tumultuous period in the newly independent Zimbabwe; that had the potential to derail the spirit and drive towards nationhood.

The Unity Accord, as stated in the preamble of the document, was “desirous to unite our nation, establish peace, law and order to guarantee social and economic development and political stability”.

In signing the document, both President Robert Mugabe and the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo, recognised the importance of unity in the economic development of the country in its post-colonial era. One could even argue that they recognised the importance of unity in 1976, when the political and military alliance was formed between ZANU and ZAPU, known as the Patriotic Front. It was under this banner of the Patriotic Front that President Mugabe and VP Nkomo travelled together to Lancaster House to negotiate the final stages of Zimbabwe’s independence from colonial rule.

The name Patriotic Front is in fact indicative of unity of purpose. It shows that at the time of the liberation struggle, regardless of the differences that the two revolutionary parties might have had, their coming together was spurred by a shared patriotic vision and the knowledge that together they would be stronger, be it in the battlefield or at the negotiating table. Unity can therefore be considered an important cornerstone in the history of Zimbabwe. It is the first word in the national motto, “Unity, Freedom, Work” found on the coat of arms, and is also found in the opening lines of the preamble to the Constitution which reads, “We the people of Zimbabwe, United in our diversity . . . Resolve by the tenets of this Constitution to commit to ourselves to build a united, just and prosperous nation.”

Those who drew up the Constitution or the national motto recognised the important role that unity plays in nation building. It is why President Mugabe has time and time again in countless speeches in recent years called for unity among Zimbabweans and particularly among members of the ruling party Zanu-PF.

President Mugabe knows that for Zanu-PF to fulfil its mandate to the people of Zimbabwe it requires a united party that is driven towards the attainment of its goals.

Unfortunately, the issue of factionalism has fractured this unity, hence the President’s constant call for factionalism to fall and unity to prevail. Factionalism is driven by selfish interests, which detract from the vision of Zanu-PF and its mandate.

The different factions put their interests, in this case succession interests, ahead of the interests of Zanu-PF, its ideology and its governing agenda. In doing so, they weaken the resolve of the party and, to paraphrase Churchill, make an opening for the enemy from without to hurt them.

One can argue that the year 2016 has been marred by political disunity, be it between the factions in Zanu-PF, the State and citizen or the revolutionary party and war veterans. As we celebrate Unity Day and the signing of the Unity Accord of 1987, it would be a prime opportunity for introspection for those in Zanu-PF and for the nation as a whole. Those in the party should question their ideals and their agendas, they should look at what they have done this year and question whether it has contributed to uniting the party or fracturing it.

Zanu-PF, as the ruling party, cannot afford to go into 2017 disjointed. Off the back of a successful conference held in Masvingo, now should be the perfect time to build unity. It is necessary for those within the party, particularly the factional elements, to look at the Unity Accord and consider the spirit that brought that document into existence.

It is this spirit that can lead to not only unity among party individuals, but a unity of purpose in delivering the Zim-Asset mandate and ensuring that the party is in a strong position come 2018 elections.

In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus told the teachers of the law from Jerusalem that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and this is the message that factional elements within the ruling party need to take to heart. Let there be unity not only in Zanu-PF, but in Zimbabwe as a whole. Unity does not mean that everyone has to think the same thing and subscribe to the same beliefs. There can be differences of opinion, but let there be a shared national vision and ethos.

Let it be collectively defined and agreed upon: what it means to be Zimbabwean and let all Zimbabweans promote and support their nationhood. Overcoming the prevailing economic environment demands that there be a unity of purpose among all Zimbabweans; the Government, the private sector, civil society organisations, churches and all other groups and individuals. It will require a similar level of patriotism that brought about the Patriotic Front in 1976, to overcome the Smith regime.

Precedent shows that Zimbabweans are capable of uniting, despite their differences, for a common good. And this is what should happen now as the country works towards developing and growing economically.

In working towards a prosperous Zimbabwe, no one person or group should consider themselves more Zimbabwean than the next as this only breeds disunity. Instead, Zimbabweans should promote cooperation and understanding. Where there are differences of opinion, let debate take place and the stronger position prevail. All Zimbabweans should unite around and uphold the values of the Constitution. It is to this hallowed document that Zimbabweans should turn towards to develop the collective vision of nationhood.

Zimbabwe is a nation blessed with an abundance of potential which can only be actualised once individuals realise that working together is more advantageous than working apart. One is confident that once all citizens of the country have committed themselves to a united patriotic agenda, then the desires of the Unity Accord, signed 29 years ago, “to guarantee social and economic development and political stability,” can be attained.

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