As Rwanda prepares to observe the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide where more than 800,000 people were killed, Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James Musoni, said it is important for Zimbabweans to work together to bring peace and prosperity to the country.
Addressing journalists while participating in a national cleanup campaign in the capital, Harare, Friday, Musoni warned against deep-seated hatred among people, which he said was what triggered the genocide in Rwanda.
“What we learnt as a people and as a country you need unity. You need unity, you have to have a shared vision and a shared purpose to be able to develop your country and I know the people of Zimbabwe, the government, the president, they are trying to promote this,” said Ambassador Musoni.
Musoni applauded his fellow citizens for embracing unity and the realization that they had to work together for the country to move forward and progress. The ambassador said although Zimbabwe cannot follow all of Rwanda's achievements, it is important to develop love, transparency, and mutual encouragement in order to create confidence in the well-being of all people.
Rwanda will mark the 25th anniversary of the massacres on Sunday and in Zimbabwe which also commemorates the event at the Arrupe Jesusit University in Harare next Friday.
The genocide in Rwanda hits close to home for many Zimbabweans, who survived Gukurahundi in the early 1980s in the Matabeleland and Midland provinces.
An estimated 20,000 civilians were reportedly murdered in the provinces but unlike in Rwanda, Zimbabwe has yet fully accounted for the atrocities, or pushed for the arrest of those suspected of committing the atrocities, or offering compensations to those affected.
The chairman of the Platform for Youth Development Board, Owen Dhliwayo, told Studio 7 he was pleased to see the country’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa, adopting some of the lessons from Rwanda that bring peace and unity of purpose, such as the National Clean Up Campaign which has been held in Zimbabwe for several months.
However, he challenged Mnangagwa and his government to go even further and face the issue of Gukurahundi head on, so as to fully bring about the peace and reconciliation that Rwanda and other countries are enjoying.
“So if he (President Mnangagwa) is following the Rwandan example of cleaning up the streets, why then does he not also follow Rwanda in acknowledging that something bad happened in his country, that does not sit well with its citizens,” said Dhliwayo.
To address the atrocities that took place, in January, President Mnangagwa signed the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill (NPRC) into law, but many question how effective it will be.
While some applauded Rwanda’s efforts to bring peace, others, however, like independent political analyst Masimba Kuchera took aim at the country’s president Paul Kagame, whom he said is oppressing opposition parties and members.
The cleanup campaign that Ambassador Musoni participated in was led by the mayor of Harare, Hebert Gomba, who said he was pleased that residents have taken up the monthly exercise of cleaning the city streets, adding that it has reduced the tension in the city.