For ZANU-PF, the Umdhala Wethu gala, held at Ascot Stadium in Gweru to commemorate the death of former vice-President Joshua Nkomo five years ago, was not just an event. It was a rallying point at which the party sold itself ahead of the 2005 elections.
But for the old guard in the former ZAPU, the gala was a sad reminder of how the grand old man of Zimbabwe politics “sold” out. According to sources, some still harboured the idea that they could revive the party, which was literally swallowed by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF at the height of political disturbances in Matebeleland back in 1987.
The gala, which featured the country’s top entertainers, received so much hype on national television that some skeptics believe that “Father Zimbabwe” is being exploited to lure the Matebeleland electorate which has shunned ZANU-PF from independence.
Adverts for the gala ran on national television for over a month.
Nkomo is still regarded as a symbol of unity between the Ndebeles and Shonas, and even as he braved ill health that later claimed his life, the old man of Zimbabwe politics was never retired until his death.
The hype surrounding his memorial galas still speaks volumes of Nkomo’s influence. It also raises the suspicion that the united ZANU-PF could still be using the late vice-President as an adhesive to keep the fractious Shona and Ndebele tribes together.
A former senior ZAPU official said that some of the old guard in ZAPU believed the unity accord, signed on 22 December 1987, was responsible for the present political crisis in the country, especially ZANU-PF’s intolerance of the opposition.
While the accord was heralded for bringing about peace in Matebeleland where thousands of civilians were massacred during the five-year internal civil strife, item 6 of the 11-point agreement strictly said the new party, ZANU-PF ” shall seek to establish a one-party state in Zimbabwe”.
Though this was before the days of perestroika, which saw the collapse of the communist block, the former official, who had a copy of the agreement, said ZANU-PF had never really abandoned its quest for a one-party state.
The agreement clearly stated that “national unity, political stability, peace, law and order, social and economic development can only be achieved to their fullest under conditions of peace and the unity primarily of ZANU(PF) and (PF) ZAPU”.
The agreement was also specific about who was calling the shots. It said though the two parties jointly commanded the support of the overwhelming majority of the people of Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF commanded a greater percentage of that overwhelming majority.
It was hammered out after 10 meetings of the two rival parties spanning over two years.
According the former official, the old guard who believed that they lost out because of the unity accord still believed that they could revive ZAPU.
Their hopes of rescuing the party were rekindled by the performance of the Movement for Democratic Change in the 2000 elections.
“They (the ZAPU old guard)tend to associate themselves with Agrippa Madhlela rather than with Paul Siwela,” the former official said. “But as far as I am concerned, this is a non-starter because the young people of today have no close sentimental value to ZAPU that the old folks have. To these youths both ZAPU and ZANU-PF are failures.”
Agrippa Madhlela is leader of the revived ZAPU. Paul Siwela broke away from that party to form what is today known as ZAPU-FP which advocates for a federal system.
AGREEMENT OF UNITY BETWEEN THE ZIMBABWE AFRICAN NATIONAL UNION (PATRIOTIC FRONT) AND PATRIOTIC FRONT (ZAPU)
Conscious of the historical links between ZANU(PF) and (PF) ZAPU in the struggle for national independence and democracy through the strategy of the Armed Struggle and their alliance under the banner of the Patriotic Front;
Cognisant of the fact that the two Parties jointly command the support of the overwhelming majority of the people of Zimbabwe as evidenced by the General Election results of 1980 and 1985 respectively;
Notwithstanding that ZANU(PF) commands a greater percentage of the said overwhelming majority of the people of Zimbabwe;
Desirous to unite our nation, establish peace, law and order and to guarantee social and economic development and political stability;
Determined to eliminate and end the insecurity and violence caused by dissidents in Matabeleland;
Convinced that national unity, political stability, peace, law and order, social and economic development can only be achieved to their fullest under conditions of peace and the unity primarily of ZANU(PF ) and (PF) ZAPU;
We, the two leaders of ZANU(PF) and (PF) ZAPU, that is to say Comrade Robert Gabriel MUGABE, First Secretary and President of ZANU(PF), and Comrade Joshua Mqabuko NKOMO, President of (PF) ZAPU, assisted by a Sub-Committee of equal members of ZANU(PF) and (PF) ZAPU, held ten meetings to discuss the possible unity of our two parties as follows:-
|1st Meeting:||2nd October, 1985:||Parliament Buildings|
|2nd Meeting:||28th November, 1985:||Parliament Buildings|
|3rd Meeting:||4th April, 1986:||Parliament Buildings|
|4th Meeting:||22nd July 1986:||Parliament Buildings|
|5th Meeting:||29th December, 1986:||Parliament Buildings|
|6th Meeting:||25th February, 1987:||Parliament Buildings|
|7th Meeting:||3rd August, 1987:||Parliament Buildings|
|8th Meeting:||10th August, 1987:||Parliament Buildings|
|9th Meeting:||23rd October, 1987:||Parliament Buildings|
|10th Meeting:||10th December, 1987:||Parliament Buildings|
Consequent upon these meetings, and paying due regard to all the principal issues raised thereat, we have agreed as follows: –
- That ZANU(PF) and (PF) ZAPU have irrevocably committed themselves to unite under one political Party;
- That the unity of the two political Parties shall be achieved under the name ZIMBABWE AFRICAN NATIONAL UNION (PATRIOTIC FRONT) in short ZANU(PF);
- That Comrade Robert Gabriel MUGABE shall be the First Secretary and President of ZANU(PF);
- That ZANU(PF) shall have two Second Secretaries and Vice Presidents who shall be appointed by the First Secretary and President of the Party;
- That ZANU(PF) shall seek to establish a socialist society in Zimbabwe on the guidance of Marxist-Leninist principles;
- That ZANU(PF) shall seek to establish a ONE-PARTY STATE in ZIMBABWE;
- That the leadership of ZANU(PF) shall abide by the Leadership Code;
- That the existing structures of ZANU(PF) and (PF) ZAPU shall be merged in accordance with the letter and spirit of this Agreement;
- That both parties shall, in the interim, take immediate vigorous steps to eliminate and end the insecurity and violence prevalent in Matabeleland.
- That ZANU(PF) and (PF) ZAPU shall convene their respective Congresses to give effect to this Agreement within the shortest possible time;
- That, in the interim, Comrade Robert Gabriel MUGABE is vested with full powers to prepare for the implementation of this Agreement and to act in the name and authority of ZANU(PF).