Most Zimbabweans yesterday celebrated Unity Day in-doors with family members owing to a heavy downpour experienced in many parts of the country. A survey conducted by The Herald showed that most people decided to spend the day with family and friends, leaving most leisure spots in Harare deserted because of heavy rains that fell in the afternoon. Only a handful of people were at Mereki and Junction 24, popular leisure spots in Warren Park D and along Chitungwiza Road, with most shop owners saying business was low because of the rains.
Mereki braai operator Mr Ronnie Nyanhiri (21) said Unity Day was important to him because it marked the day when two liberation movements decided to form a pact in order to halt hostilities and disturbances that characterised the early years of the country's independence.
"Unity Day is important to us young people because the absence of unity is chaos and civil strife. However, this year I am disappointed because it is on this day and Christmas Day when we enjoy brisk business. I hope more people would come in the evening," said Mr Nyanhiri.
A woman only identified as Mai Tinashe (31) said Unity Day was a special day on the country's calendar as it defined the path that the nation had travelled in attaining peace and stability.
"Unity Day is important just like Heroes or Independence Day because this is the day when we reflect and cherish the wisdom of our two leaders, Cdes Mugabe and Nkomo. They put the interest of the nation ahead of their own personal interests. We could have easily descended into another Rwanda, DRC or Somalia," she said.
University of Zimbabwe student Ms Thembelani Gatula said the Unity Accord was important to all Zimbabweans in that it prevented the country from sliding into chaos.
"I cannot overemphasise the importance of unity in fostering national cohesion and unity. If it is because of unity, peace and tranquillity that I am able to acquire an education that would be important for the future development of this country," said Ms Gatula.
ZANU-PF director of Information and Publicity Cde Steven Chidawanyika said the sanctity of unity is unquestionable.
"There is nothing more valuable that has ever happened in this country than the signing of the Unity Accord. The Unity Accord, which came as a result of the coming together of two former liberation movements with the same ideological thinking could not have come at a better time than the early days of our independence," he said.
He said while the Unity Accord was between Zanu and PF-Zapu, the pact unified Zimbabweans in that it culminated in peace and stability in the country following years of disturbances in Matabeleland.
Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Cde Chris Mushowe said unity meant the oneness of all Zimbabweans exemplified in one flag, one geographical boundary, one Head of State and one Constitution.
"Without unity, Zimbabwe could not have been what it is. You are aware that our Government reflects the unification of former liberation movements Zanu and PF Zapu. It is that unity that Zimbabweans identify with regardless of their different ethnic or dialectical backgrounds. Today (yesterday) is the day that every Zimbabwean must reflect on the war of liberation and those that were left behind in battle whose efforts culminated in the independence of our country," said Cde Mushowe.
December 22 is a public holiday gazetted through Statutory Instrument 156 of 1997.