ZIMBABWEANS have been urged to continue cherishing and safeguarding unity as they commemorate Unity Day today. Nationalist movements, Zanu and Zapu - which fought for the liberation of the country - formed a united Zanu-PF in 1987, ending disturbances in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands.
Unity Day was borne out of a resolution by the Zanu-PF Youth League in 1996 that proposed that December 22 - the day the Unity Accord was signed by President Mugabe and the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo on behalf of all Zimbabweans - be declared a public holiday.
A year later, the day was gazetted as a public holiday through Statutory Instrument 156 of 1997.
Zanu-PF national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo said it must be recalled that the signing of the Unity Accord by the President and Dr Nkomo was endorsed by the congresses of both parties, making it irreversible.
"We must, therefore, take this day as a very special day for reflection and stock-taking and an honour of our fallen heroes who sacrificed their very lives for our freedom.
"We must in this context remember that the liberation war was about repossessing our land which we have accomplished and also the prosecution of our efforts to economic emancipation, hence our indigenisation and economic empowerment programme which we must pursue to a logical conclusion."
Cde Khaya Moyo said the theme for Zanu-PF's recent Annual National People's Conference in Gweru was guided by that position. The theme was, "Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment."
Cde Khaya Moyo said the theme called upon all to fight corruption and be exemplary.
He said corruption was fast eating into the nation's fabric and must be eradicated.
Cde Khaya Moyo said without unity there could never be peace, development and prosperity.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo said Unity Day was critical for the people of Zimbabwe as it was a major development that was reached after protracted negotiations.
"It is a very important agreement that has brought about peace and stability and unity in the country.
"It has also brought about economic stability and it's important for all the people of Zimbabwe," he said.
Cde Gumbo said the Unity Accord was signed to ensure that all the people regardless of colour, gender and tribe were united so that there is prosperity.
"As we commemorate this unique and major date, we must think of peace and stability in the country to accomplish our mission and vision," he said.
Zanu-PF Harare Provincial secretary for information and publicity Cde Claudious Mutero said: "It is something that Zimbabweans should cherish and jealously guard.
"All of us should thank the two leaders (President Mugabe and the late Dr Nkomo) for the unity we are continuing to have."
Cde Mutero said since independence, a number of schools and health institutions were built with people enjoying peace and stability.
"It is something that everyone should cherish and it doesn't matter which political party you are from or church organisation you belong to, we should all celebrate peacefully," he said.
Zimbabwe National Liberation Supporters Association president Cde Collins Chipare congratulated Zimbabweans on attaining 25 years of national unity.
"Let us cherish and guard with our very lives, the unity, the security and the progress we have attained in education, the land reform programme and the current indigenisation and economic empowerment thrust," he said.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said Unity Day should involve all political parties.
"This day should be for Zimbabweans to sit down and denounce all forms of divisions as well as political intolerance and violence against each other," he said.
"Every Zimbabwean should be tolerant and respect each other's views and never resort to violence."
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka urged people to act responsibly as they mark Unity Day.
He said police would be heavily deployed to ensure that peace and stability prevail.
"It has been our expectation that people go about their businesses in a safe and secure environment," said Chief Supt Mandipaka.
"We are more than prepared to deal with elements who disturb peace and we will carry out visible patrols in places where celebrations would be taking place."