The 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu was about the establishment of the de facto one-party cum one-man (Robert Mugabe) dictatorship – a curse and not the blessing the name implies. Even now, with the benefit of hindsight of just how disastrous the dictatorship has been for Zimbabwe under our belt, it is amazing that some people will still not see the Unity Accord for curse it is.
It "boggles the mind that today no one seems to treasure unity anymore," commented former Midlands governor Cephas Msipa in praise of the 1987 Unity Accord.
Open debate and democratic competition is about the competition of ideas; it is just that when some people find they are losing the fight on the theatre of ideas they reach for the sword for the single purpose of silencing the opponent and, in some cases, for good. Whatever other reasons President Mugabe had for the Gukurahundi there is no deny that establishing a de facto one-party state was his primary reason. He saw the chance to silence his main political opponent and he seized it with both hands!
Those who want to consider the 1987 Unity Accord as a progressive move must accept that the Accord allowed President Mugabe to establish the de facto one-party cum one-man, Robert Mugabe, dictatorship and the consequences of the said dictatorship. If those consequence were not plain back in 1987 there are plain as daylight today. Zimbabwe is in this political and economic mess today because we have been stuck with the corrupt and tyrannical regime which, being a de facto one-man dictatorship, has eliminated all meaningful competition
“What was accomplished by the bullet cannot be undone by the ballot!” was President Mugabe’s cynical response in 2008. He had lost the March vote and mounted a ruthless campaign of violence to reverse the result in the run-off.
Free and open debate and meaningful democratic competition in which an informed electorate have the casting vote to decide who rules the country is the foundation of good, accountable and competent government the world over. People like President Mugabe instinctively dislike democracy because it forces them to compete and any fair competition holds the possibility of losing, which they cannot bear. Democracy also means being held accountable, a luxury tyrants the world over can ill afford given their track record of broken promises, broken limps and broken lives.
As soon as they assume power, the tyrant’s instinctive act is to stifle debate and democratic competition and deny the people the free vote. This is exactly what President Mugabe did and by cloaking the autocratic move as unifying one was sugar coating the cyanide pill.
Dictatorships do not create peace and unity but an illusion of peace and unity for it is always the same people benefiting from the lack of democratic competition who will disturb the peace if they should be subjected to democratic competition and accountability. On the other hand the lack of democratic scrutiny will eventually lead to misrule and social tension which, in time, will boil over as the people demand an end to the misrule.
After decades of misrule by this Zanu PF dictatorship born out of the 1987 Unity Accord the people of Zimbabwe are demanding an end to the dictatorship masquerading as unity. There are many nations out there with a healthy and functional democratic system of government who have enjoyed peace, freedom and economic prosperity and confined their fighting in the theatre of ideas.
We totally reject this Zanu PF mentality that we must retain the de facto one-party dictatorship system because Zimbabweans are incapable of holding vigorous political debates and democratic competition for political power without sparking yet another Gukurahundi! Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we cannot still be naïve and gullible to accept Mugabe’s self-serving nonsense of stifling debate, democracy and the people’s right to a meaningful free vote under the pretence of unity!