Matabeleland in Unity Day Gukurahundi defiance march

December 22 is meant to be National Unity Day but Matabeleland pressure groups and political parties are defying the day claiming that the day has never brought unity to the country.

Led by a Bulawayo cultural pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu, hundreds of people from in and around Bulawayo are expected to take part in the march set for Unity Day to denounce the day which they claim is a celebration of the end of the Gukurahundi killings more than a national unity day.

On 22 December 1987, the then opposition party PF ZAPU led by the late Dr Joshua Nkomo signed a Unity Accord agreement with Robert Mugabe of ZANU to establish the current ruling ZANU PF party.

One of the conditions of the agreement was that Mugabe was to withdraw what has since turned out to have been his private army wing which was executing the Gukurahundi atrocities.

The soldiers had already encountered for officially recorded 20 000 deaths in the Matabeleland and Midlands region.

A group of about 60 former ZIPRA soldiers, an armed wing of PF ZAPU during the liberation war, who had deserted the National Army which was being formulated were given an amnesty to stop their bandit operations in exchange of the withdrawal of the 2000 soldiers from the 5th brigade army wing which executed the Gukurahundi killings.

Ibhetshu Likazulu in conjunction with several other Matabeleland pressure groups and civil society organisations have thus refused to recognise the holiday as National Unity Day but opting to call it a celebration for the end of the killing of the 20 000 people by the ZANU PF led government.

Since the signing of the unity accord, government and ZANU PF declared the agreement as a closure to the atrocities with former President Mugabe declaring the period of killings which lasted five years as a moment of madness.

Ibhetshu Likazulu is coordinating a march for the people of Matabeleland to demand that the government calls for a truth and reconciliation commission which will bring the perpetrators of the killings to public trial.

The march is scheduled to start from the Joshua Nkomo memorial statue in the CBD of Bulawayo to Makokoba township’s Stanley Hall where a memorial service for the victims of the atrocities will be held.

Police in Bulawayo could not commit to ZimEye.com if the march had been sanctioned by any of the police or the army.

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