Zimbabwean churches under the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) banner have shown a keen interest in joining the national dialogue being held under the auspices of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD).
In an interview with the state paper The Herald, ZCC secretary-general Reverend Dr Kenneth Mtata thrown their ecclesiastical weight behind political dialogue, which was launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in May 2019, to dialogue as part of wider efforts to cement national healing and nation-building.
Albeit, the church unison want the engagements to be comprehensive and broad-based.
Rev. Dr Mtata, who has repeatedly called for an overarching dialogue among Zimbabweans, insisted that dialogue should be inclusive and not about the outcome of the 2018 elections.
“Dialogue should be comprehensive and broad-based participation with the inclusion of all political parties, chiefs, churches and even civil society groups… dialogue is not about the outcome of the previous election. It is known and it’s a fact that Zanu-PF won the election. Dialogue is just meant to bring trust and confidence among the people, business community and politicians to take the country forward.
When engaging in dialogue, we need to consult even people at grassroots, districts and provincial level. As churches, we need transformation, which ushers peace, justice, unity and prosperity among the people,” said the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) cleric.
POLAD is a voluntary platform for national dialogue launched by President Mnangagwa after last year’s general elections. The political actors are mainly political parties and candidates who took part in July 2018 elections who met and adopted a code of conduct to promote conditions encouraging dialogue and political tolerance, mutual respect, consensus, information dissemination and commitment to principles outlined in the dialogue.
The platform has however suffered casualties as the Nelson Chamisa-led Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, a befitting protagonist in the dialogue, along with four other parties have snubbed the initiative describing it as “child’s play and a waste of time”. The party said it wouldn’t dialogue with Mnangagwa, unless if he accepts their stance that he is not the legitimate leader of the country, despite the outcome of the Constitutional Court that upheld ZEC’s declaration that President Mnangagwa won the presidential election, having polled 50,8%, while Mr Chamisa garnered 44,3% of the vote.
But ZCC urged the MDC to swallow its pride and join the platform.
“Dialogue is imminent, but it is just a matter of time. President Mnangagwa is the Head of State and Government. He is our statesman. He has the keys for dialogue, MDC-A leader should swallow his pride and engage and consider President Mnangagwa as the President of Zimbabwe. Dialogue is coming, we need to prepare for it, but it might take time. We do not need foreign intervention,” Rev Dr Mtata was quoted by The Herald.
While Mr Chamisa has insisted on the engagement of an international facilitator before he could be part of any talks with President Mnangagwa, a sentiment which was also seconded by the South African government, Dr Mtata said a foreign mediator was not necessary as local challenges require internal solutions.
Meanwhile, the church is yet to take a common stance on POLAD and its essence without the involvement of the MDC.
Earlier this month, Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) leader Bishop Johannes Ndanga said Mr Chamisa and Pres. Mnangagwa are the only credible political leaders in Zimbabwe who should find each other and, in the same vein describing the fringe parties involved in the Political Actors Dialogue as “jokers”.
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