Church Split Over Jim Kunaka’s Testimony at the Commission of Inquiry

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A schism of great magnitude has torn apart the ecumenical community in the country following a testimony by former ZANU-PF Youth League chairperson, Jim Kunaka, in which he alleged that ZANU PF is a terror party that uses security apparatus to unleash terror on the opposition.

Testifying before a commission of inquiry led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe into the August 1, 2018 post-election violence that saw seven sacred lives being lost, Kunaka, who is now a member of the National Patriotic Front, narrated the alleged nature of violence within the revolutionary party, painting a vivid image on how it torments its opponents with impunity.

“I was a Provincial Leader of ZANU PF in Harare and I was in charge of commanding violent activities if you check on the internet my name is there. Professor Charity Manyeruke who is seated there in the commission is one of the architects of violence in ZANU PF.

She was one of the people with whom we would sit down to discuss how we would beat up MDC people. Manyeruke was my Boss who sent me to do violence and my commander who gave me instructions so I will not respond any questions from my commander because when we were in ZANU PF I was merely her foot soldier.”

Upon its delivery, Mr Kunaka’s testimony caused a major tabloid frenzy and subsequently became a subject of great discourse across all platforms, on and offline. There were a group of people that applauded him for his supposed honesty, but not at the expense of another fraction that felt that he has befouled the ‘party of excellence‘.

The church of God was not aloof in all these proceedings; it also got to share how it understood Mr Kunaka’s testimony.

While anticipations could have it that the church should be consolidated and speaking with a unanimous voice, it is utterly an unfortunate but expected development to note that the prevalent denominational and theological divide among the sects has however influenced the body of Christ’s stance, splitting their heads in the process.

One ecclesiastical union is saying one thing, while the other is expressing a totally distinct thing, a true definition of opening a Pandora box of chaos.

Over the weekend Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council (ZACC) -a unison of indigenous apostolic churches long known to be pro-regime- rapped over Kunaka’s sworn statement, saying such claims had no place in the new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa.

ZACC patron Mr Jimayi Muduvuri, you may have heard of him, said as the church the political actor, Kunaka’s asseveration perturbed them as he is inclined on opening old wounds.

“As churches, we are worried and disturbed by such assertions in which a political actor boasts that he is a person who is of a violent disposition and seeking to open old wounds. President Mnangagwa has been consistent, unwavering and unequivocal in his resentment of violence.

He has been preaching peace and political tolerance. As churches, we cannot keep quiet when a senior official of a political party is preaching hate language and uttering inciting words on national television with reckless abandon,”

said Muduvuri.

Mr Muduvuri added that attempts by Mr Kunaka to discredit the just-ended July 30 harmonised elections by claiming that he was abducted were frivolous since several local, regional and international bodies have certified the elections as free and fair.

“Sadc, African Union and Comesa were categorical in their election observation reports that hailed the election as free, fair and credible. As churches, we want us to continue guided by biblical principles of peace, unity and national cohesion.”

Mr Muduvuri said Mr Kunaka’s utterances only confirmed why he was expelled from Zanu-PF.

“As churches, we are left with no option except to say that Zanu-PF might have been right after all in expelling him since by his own admission he is a violent person.”

Meanwhile, a Christian advocacy organisation that facilitates the Church’s visibility and audibility on matters of governance, the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny were gruntled by Kunaka’s deposition.

The ecumenical merger, which has been consistency in its calls for social and political justice, peace and national healing, said Mr Kunaka’s sensational testimony was exemplary and even urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to own up to his and his party’s past evils before purporting of future plans.

Addressing members of the media on Saturday, ZDD Executive Director Bishop Magaya urged President Mnangagwa to emulate Kunaka who has admitted and shown regret for his past wrongs.

“Kunaka set the bar quite high for his erstwhile colleagues in the former party by clearly telling the nation that he regrets his involvement in cruel and dastardly acts in which violence was unleashed on civilians. We urge the President to emulate the once junior member of his party.

Kunaka’s recent admissions at the Commission of Inquiry over his dark past while in Zanu PF need to be applauded,”

said the bishop.

He said it was difficult to forget about the mass killings of the 1980s and the recent shootings when those who killed continued to deny any involvement.

“It is impossible in the matrix of healing and forgiveness to expect hurting people and communities to suddenly forgive, forget and heal when the perpetrators of the violence deny involvement.

Those involved in the abductions and isolated murders must, if they are keen on forgiveness and healing the nation, confess publicly their roles in these dark chapters like what Kunaka has just done.

The Psalmist says that the sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken and contrite heart,”

said the outspoken preacher.

Violence and conflicts have always been a cause for concern in Zimbabwe.

The country’s pre-colonial era was characteristically violent; the colonial conquest was terrible and liberation struggle bloody.

In the post-colonial independent Zimbabwe, the cases of violence were supposed to be erstwhile. However, they were frequent with chapters like Gukurahundi, 2000 parliamentary elections, Operation Murambatsvina (2005) and the 2008 political violence standing out to global attention.

Scant efforts or headway have been made to address this recurrent problem and because the habit of violence is deeply etched, the recurrence and severity of political violence increase whenever there are major political events, particularly elections.

President Mnangagwa has repeatedly told the nation that it must forget about past misdeeds and on numerous circumstances, has called the nation to let bygones be antiquities.

Bishop Magaya – who has been hounded and detained by the state at varied occasions for organising and joining peace campaigns which illuminated on state brutality – is, however, no fan of such headway utterances.

“Such a statement is highly unacceptable, mischievous and a failure on his (President Mnangagwa) part to own up to past evils,” he said.

The commission proceedings are still afoot and among others who have appeared before it is MDC president Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti.

Mr Chamisa has since implored the Commission that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his two deputies, Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, should also be subpoenaed to give their account of the fateful shootings.

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ImChris Charamba

ImChris Charamba

Head Storyteller at Enthuse Afrika. Balances literary writing with pop culture experience. Captivates raw, authentic sights, moments, feelings and conversations. Follow me on Twitter @ImChrisCharamba

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