Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Alliance party led by Nelson Chamisa says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government should stop persecuting its opponents while “preaching” peace and unity.
In message to mark Unity Day, Chamisa said the country is currently divided along political lines resulting in serious social, economic and political problems.
He said the country needs a fresh start amid the incarceration of members of the MDC Alliance and other opponents of the government.
“In a New Zimbabwe, under our new government, we propose a National Unity, Peace and Prayer Day. We do so in recognition of the fact that unity, peace and prayer are interconnected. We recognise that unity is not merely a political slogan but rather, it is a reality that we must experience in all spheres, be it in our families, churches, workplaces civic organisations or government.
“Nation building is an ongoing project that will produce conditions of unity in diversity. But we cannot build a nation when there is persecution. We call for an end to political persecution. Nation building requires justice to be done for the aggrieved in our communities.”
Chamisa said Zimbabweans “deserve to be united by our values, aspirations, constitution and human rights. No single organization is bigger than Zimbabwe. We must imagine a better, just and more prosperous Zimbabwe in which our diversity is celebrated, not condemned.
“We owe it to ourselves and future generations as God’s people to embrace one another in unity, to pray for the prosperity of our nation. Prayer works with works. We should not wait for divine intention when we can change our behaviour.”
He said all Zimbabweans should seek peace ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, noting that the unity agreement signed by PF Zapu and Zanu PF in 1987 should not be used to arm-twist opponents into signing meaningless accords.
“... We in the MDC are ready to play our part in finding a lasting solution to the national issues that bring us together as a nation. We will unite the nation and bring peace in the name of our Lord, without resorting to any forms violence which we abhor. Peace is simple. Peace begins within. Peace begets peace. Peace breeds prosperity.”
He said unity is not about the coming together of bodies, commanded by the powerful in society.
“Politically, unity is a process in which parties of different political and ideological persuasions are allowed to pursue their cause while they come together to face common threats. Unity does not criminalize diversity and alternative views. It is not tyranny of the centre. This why the devolution process is essential for unity. Unity does not mean sweeping pain and tears of a people under the proverbial carpet. Rather, it is a process that is undergirded by truth-telling, acknowdgment of pain, remorse and reconciliation.”
He noted that the unity signed by the late Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe has become a meaningless piece of paper.
“Currently, we experience too many divisions, violence, and hatred. This has made Unity Day become meaningless without the values and practices of unity that I have outlined. It has become a reminder of the ogre of violence, intolerance and hate speech that continue to engulf our nation. Violence is intolerable. We note with disdain an increase in abductions and torture against its citizens including young leaders and activists. We have hundreds of MDC leaders in detention or on remand facing politically-motivated charges. The consistent and persistent denial of citizens’ rights is a form of violence against political opponents.”
He took a swipe at Mnangagwa’s government saying there are too many human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
“The harassment, intimidation, illegal arrest of opposition leaders, activists, and professionals is repugnant to unity and peace. It’s deplorable how professionals have been harassed and persecuted during the course of the year simply because they have dared to exercise their freedoms. Unity does not mean a suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms. It celebrates and protects them. Unity is not built on force. It is built upon foundations of love, understanding and appreciation of difference and diversity.”