Today, Reverent Dr Kenneth Mtata’s name is ubiquitous on various local and African tabloids, splitting the public’s perspective over his latest decision. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe cleric and Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) last night humbly declined a Presidential Advisory Council appointment.
On Wednesday, President Mnangagwa established a 26-member Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) to advise and help him formulate key economic policies and strategies that advance Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 entails making Zimbabwe an upper middle-income country with gross national income (GNI) per capita of between $3,896 and $12,055, according to the World Bank’s technical calculations. This implies high standards of living for citizens.
Anyway, the advisory council put in place consists of experts and leaders drawn from diverse sectors like business, health and social protection, agriculture, governance and human rights, faith-based organisations, tourism, education, minorities, ICT, civic society, communication and media management.
PAC members include Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries immediate past president Mr Busisa Moyo, former Delta chief executive Mr Joe Mutizwa, Sakunda Holdings chief executive owner Mr Kudakwashe Tagwirei and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Divine Ndhlukula; economist and banker Zondo Sakala, Agribank chief executive Mr Somkhosi Malaba and Africa Next chief executive Mr Lewis Musasike; Dr Norbert Mugwagwa and physician Dr Godfrey Sikipa; Remigius Makumbe, Simbarashe Mangwende.
Other members are Dr Lindiwe Sibanda; Natalie Jabangwe (ICT); Mr Aenias Chuma, Ms Elisa Ravengai, seasoned lawyer Mr Edwin Manikai (governance and human rights); Professors Kuzvinetsa Dzvimbo and Robson Mafoti.
Renowned businessman Mr Herbert Nkala will represent the tourism sector while AMH owner Trevor Ncube will represent the communication and media management. CABS managing director Mr Simon Hammond and CBZ Holdings chairman Mr Richard Wilde will represent the minorities.
The civic society will be represented by Janah Ncube while Dr Shingi Munyeza and Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary general Dr Kenneth Mtata will stand for faith-based organisations.
Surprisingly, Rev Mtata Says, “No, Thank You”
Admirably, as many on the list would have grinned upon the offer and grab it, Reverent Dr Kenneth Mtata is not in for it and he wants the presidium to know it, as well as everyone else.
The influential Rev issued an open letter in which he said his current position as ZCC general secretary would limit effective functioning in the president’s advisory council.
The letter reads:
“It has been brought to my attention today that my name has been included on the list of individuals appointed to serve as members of the Presidential Advisory Council. The same has been announced on national television. I feel really flattered to be invited to serve the nation and President in such a role in a moment as this. My current position will however limit effective functioning in such a huge role. I have therefore humbly withdrawn my name. The President will be fully briefed of my commitment to the Nation Building agenda and I will support his efforts in other ways within my capabilities.”
Well, this development has come as a surprise to many who could have thought that all his efforts at fostering inclusivity in government had fruitify, eventually, as he will get to regulate it from within. Some have even gone an extra mile of postulating possible reasons the Rev withdrew his name from the list.
The Members of the PAC will only get an honorarium, otherwise it’s a voluntary position… Dr Kenneth Mtata declined the position because he couldn’t agree to participate without being paid … We wish him well.. Members of the PAC should be fully patriotic Zimbabweans. pic.twitter.com/R9GTSF9DSH
— Kudzai Mutisi (@KMutisi) January 30, 2019
Whilst Dr Kenneth Mtata has the liberty to exercise his right to decline appointment into PAC , I beleive somehow he has limited understanding of what this advisory role entails. Such people view everything in political lenses & its very unfortunate.
— Study in Germany , Ukraine , Russia , Cyprus (@simbara_she) January 30, 2019
Dr. Mtata has missed an opportunity to proffer good advise to the President. His appointment clearly showed that the PAC is non partisan. The PAC is an opportunity for anyone to work for the good of Zimbabweans not president ED! It’s his loss!
— Baba Tee (@BabaVaTee) January 31, 2019
That being the case from one perspective, there is a fraction of the mob who are applauding the Rev for taking a knee on the offer.
Take a look at some of the tweets.
One out of PAC: Reverend Dr Kenneth Mtata, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, says, “no thank you”! pic.twitter.com/pkOM0edWGw
— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) January 30, 2019
— Open Space (@OpenSpaceZW) January 31, 2019
Thanks Mtata for recusing yourself from this juntapreneur club. pic.twitter.com/xY06aDdrWW
— Tinashe Munjanja (@_Sinyoro) January 31, 2019
Welldone Dr Mtata for refusing to participate in a sham advisory group by an illegitimate president who learns about his countries goings on through foreign news agencies.
— Mussa Pasi (@Soko27) January 31, 2019
Rev Mtata’s Understanding Of How The Church Should Engage With Power
Going through the tweets above, it has come under the greenlight that Rev Dr Mtata’s decision to turn down the presidential offer is dividing mass opinion.
One particular and seemingly sound user lamented his treatment of power as flawed.
“Whilst Dr Kenneth Mtata has the liberty to exercise his right to decline appointment into PAC , I believe somehow he has a limited understanding of what this advisory role entails. Such people view everything in political lenses & its very unfortunate.(sic)”, he wrote.
Disappointingly, where this learned and enlightened user’s narrative loses balance is, he was swift in airing his “smart’ remark, however with no endeavour to understand Rev Mtata treatment of power. Apparently, he made no effort, whatsoever, to at least do a background check on all the calls for peace, unity and national dialogue that ZCC and the Churches Convergence of Peace(CCOP) have been making.
This, therefore, bring us to the brink of questioning what’s the Reverent Dr’s perspective of dealing with the state as the Church? What is his approach?
Answering where the Church was during the former president Robert Mugabe’s reign on the TV talk show, Chim’s Talk Africa just under a year ago, Rev Mtata highlighted the need for the Church to remain undiluted.
Asked whether it is the right thing for the authentic church of God to side with the side, he said:
“The biggest challenge I think we have is that the church has not understood the idea of power as Jesus Christ talked about power. Therefore, when the church wants to identify with power, the church will compromise all its other values to identify with power.
But what we see is that whenever the church tries to continue identifying with power, then the church becomes the legitimator of anyone who is in power. They endorse and when they do this the church loses its prophetic voice and we hope that this is not what is going to continue to happen in Zimbabwe and indeed in the rest of Africa.
Religion and Christianity, in particular, plays a very important role in Africa and that the church needs to rediscover its own prophetic voice so that the church holds accountable: praises the state when it is doing well, but it also holds the state accountable when it is not doing well.”
It convinces us that Rev Dr Kenneth Mtata is still walking in the light of his above words, and as he noted in his letter, he is still committed to assisting in the Nation Building agenda…just not under the advisory council.
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