The political atmosphere in Zimbabwe is still humid with manifold comments and all sorts of opinions following Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD)’s call to suspend elections for seven years, a period they say will give Zimbabweans a time to heal from past political hurts and address the current political paralysis and deepening mistrust and polarisation.
While the church leaders told the press in Harare on Tuesday that their proposal was welcomed by both of the country’s biggest political blocs and were waiting for their feedback, Zanu PF and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have reportedly shot down at it.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Dr Obert Mpofu told a local paper that the country was coming from elections that produced winners and there was no need to suspend the Constitution. He said economic hardships were not caused by elections and the proposals by the churches were misplaced.
“That is their proposal, that is their view. We go by the dictates of the Constitution. We have a Constitution that guides the conduct of elections and the mandate thereof. We have been reading about the view from the churches, and it is their entitlement to have their own views. As Zanu PF, we feel there is need to constantly respect the Constitution. We have come out of an election that produced their leadership. What is motivating the view, I don’t know,” Mpofu said.
The Advocate Nelson Chamisa-led MDC said that it welcomes the efforts by churches to end the socio-economic and political crises in the country, but rejected the idea of suspending a democratic procedure of choosing national administration.
Party spokesperson, Hon. Daniel Molokele said that it was of much vitality to find an everlasting solution to the political crisis which is the root of all the problems in the country.
“Every interested key stakeholder in the country must look for a long-lasting solution, because the people are suffering. But as the MDC, we have been very clear in our position concerning the future of this country and the way forward, that unless and until we resolve the political issues, the economy is going to be affected,” Molokele said.
MDC Vice President Tendai Biti also dismissed the proposal by the church, saying any solution on the country’s crisis was predicated on genuine talks between Zanu PF and the MDC, the main political actors, followed by a social dialogue.
“The churches are putting the cart before the horse,” Biti said.
“The country is in serious structural crisis, we don’t want to put makeup on the crisis. There has to be genuine dialogue in the country, supported by the international community. This dialogue is not about sharing positions or suspending the Constitution, but structural reforms, that is what is key.
The problem is much deeper than elections, the country is in crisis. Any solution should be a product of dialogue. There are two major players in the country’s polity, Zanu PF and the MDC and the dialogue between these two actors is key, followed by social dialogue. The church should only facilitate their dialogue. And the solution should come from the process of dialogue.”
Jealousy Mawarire, the spokesperson for National People’s Party and executive director for the Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA), said the church’s proposal was to be stopped as it served to give the incumbent president more years at the helm.
“How do you reward an illegitimate president with more years at the helm? That’s witchcraft. Those Ediots masquerading as heads of Christian denominations shld (sic) be stopped in their tracks. They are hired Zanu-PF goons,” he wrote on Twitter.
Other stakeholders who have spoken against the Sabbath includes Professor Jonathan Moyo, Obert Gutu (MDC-T), Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services Energy Mutodi and Civil Society Activist Takura Zhangazha.
Nevertheless, other thought leaders like Shingi Munyeza have supported the idea, with novelist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga saying she found it interesting, only if the church leaders are working with political and other groupings.
Thus, with such an overweight apathy on the call from major stakeholders, one is forced to wonder if the church stands a chance with the call for a voting moratorium and regulating state politics.
Time will tell…
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