The politicians made this call when they thronged Bhalagwe in Maphisa, Sunday for a memorial service to remember the Gukurahundi genocide victims on February 21 under the theme: The Intergenerational Quest for Justice.
This memorial service was held at the site where the third memorial plaque erected last year was bombed by unknown agents
Those who attended the service included Chief Fuyane of Maphisa, Chief Mathema of Gwanda, church leaders, political party representatives from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Freedom Alliance, MDC-T, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) and ZAPU.
CCC’s Abednico Bhebhe set the ball rolling when he said the problem in Matabeleland was that leaders of political parties were not united.
“We are yet to master unity. In 1980 when there was unity, ZAPU won 20 out of 20 seats. In 2000, the united MDC won all seats except in Beitbridge but the enemy wants you to be divided. Meanwhile, the enemy is busy enjoying himself as long as we are not united,” he said.
Bhebhe noted that for a new government to prevail in Zimbabwe, unity was key.
“As long as Matabeleland is divided, Chamisa will fail (referring to the opposition), the next person to come will also fail,” he stated.
The former Nkayi South legislator also likened “Zanu PF rule to devilish rule, where Satan had destroyed people’s livelihoods.”
“To remove this Satan, we need, as leaders from Matabeleland, start talking about unity. I am willing to exchange phone numbers to start the discussions,” Bhebhe said.
Former Bulawayo MP under the Proportional Representation, Nomvula Mguni, from MDC-T echoed the same sentiments, noting politics was a “game of numbers.”
“Statistics have shown there is strength in unity. If we are united, we will emerge victorious. Look at statistics from the previous elections, if you add the opposition numbers, you see a win. Now we heard of double candidature, which shows there is no unity. Unity must be our political solution and strategy. We unite for a purpose and stay with that unity,” she said.
Mguni lamented it was unfortunate some elements within the political space screamed “tribalism when Matabeleland leaders met yet when they did their campaigning talked about solving Gukurahundi.”
“Let’s build a party that will take all the seats in Matabeleland. We also encourage women and youth to register so that it would be difficult for Zanu to rig, they can alter small figures but can’t manipulate large numbers,” she said.
Member of the Freedom Alliance party, Mqondisi Ndebele, claimed the biggest Satan in Zimbabwe was disunity.
“We feel the same suffering, we struggle the same but we are not united. You see the problem when you are in your house but don’t want to talk about it publicly,” he said.
“Our position as Freedom Alliance is we go wherever we are called to discuss. Our problem as people is we hate associating together because we think we are too familiar with each other. But goats killed more often by hyenas are those that do not stick with each other.”
Ndebele added that detractors who were against progress knew how to divide people and make them feel guilty for associating with others.
“Even after today, there will be some who will ask, ‘what happened at Bhalagwe, what was said, by who, do you agree with them?’ Yet people meet every day to talk but when certain people meet it becomes a problem,” he said.
The Freedom Alliance member urged local politicians to meet and discuss issues that affected the region.
“For many years we have been lied to by politicians from other areas. Don’t allow fake promises to be sold because you will end up selling your people. Don’t allow anyone to talk bad about your fellow compatriots. As long as we are in Matabeleland we have to talk,” Ndebele said.
MRP national executive member, Mbonisi Gumbo, was blunt that their party was formed to protect the interests of the Ndebele people and had always been clear “they were against Shona dominion.”
“People in Harare think they are superior to people in Matabeleland. Somehow people in Matabeleland have accepted they are inferior or that they are second class. How many people from Matabeleland have actually led, they always become second,” he said.
Gumbo pointed out some problems seen in political parties emanated from decisions taken by leaders based in Harare who sidestepped local leaders.
“That’s a reality. Even in CCC, the problem is in Harare but the members won’t say it in public. Even Matabeleland people in Zanu PF will not say their problem is in Harare but as MRP we are clear in saying it. Let’s learn to have confidence, take decisions that matter here,” he said.
A pastor with Brethren in Christ Church, Milson Ndlovu, said that in the name of unity, it would be good for Zimbabweans to have one rally where all political parties attended and spoke to the same crowd.
Political analyst Effie Ncube also suggested that since the politicians had spoken about unity, their words must be implemented.
“Next week, let’s organise a meeting where you all meet and discuss the one who fails to attend, we will expose them,” he said.