On Monday, the 13th of July 2020, seventeen political parties heeded the call to participate at a consultative meeting invited by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD), an alliance of Christian consortiums that includes the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Union for Development for Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference and Zimbabwe Council of Churches.
The meeting took place at Kentucky Hotel and it was part of a series of consultations lined up by the churches to find consensus on the current but also the long-standing challenges facing the southern African nation.
The Monday meeting was a culmination of a week of extensive bilateral engagements in which even those political parties that did not attend it gave input, ZHOCD said in a statement.
Among the challenges raised by the participants were;
Pandemic & The State Of Emergence
The need for everyone to realise that the nation is in an emergency situation. It was noted with concern that the current state of the health sector characterised by the failure by government to amicably resolve the protracted strike by medical personnel, did not augur well with the desperate need to prepare for the spiralling cases of COVID-19.
Coupled with this was the realisation that the resources mobilised for the pandemic were not being handled in ways that instilled confidence to the public
Constitutional Implementations & Amendments
There was a huge outcry among the participants regarding the failure to implement the constitution. While some participants raised concerns on the integrity of the current constitution, there was unanimity that it was supposed to be implemented before it can be amended.
The participants agreed that the failure to implement and honour the constitution had seen an increase in fear among citizens confronted by violence and many unresolved cases of abductions and systematic torture at the hands of persons alleged to be state functionaries.
Corruption & Economic Woes
The participants highlighted the negative effects of the current economic collapse characterized by increasing corruption cases, most of which are not being resolved satisfactorily.
There was general agreement that even the informal economy which had become the source of livelihoods for the majority of citizens had been destroyed, not only due to the effects of COVID-19 but because of the economic policies in which citizens were not properly consulted. This level of poverty has further marginalised citizens especially women and children to be able to meaningfully participate in democratic processes.
Justice & Closure for Past Hurts & Human Rights Violations
The participants also noted that at the heart of many of the issues raised above, was the failure to properly bring closure to the many hurts and human rights violations of the immediate and long-past, including, but not isolated to Gukurahundi.
They highlighted that without such closure, the nation has not managed to build a shared national vision and shared values. There were concerns that, due to this wounded past, some communities feel deliberately marginalised from the national development priorities.
Overall, participants agreed that these issues could neither be addressed in isolation nor by only a few actors. The intertwined and overarching nature of these issues requires an urgent, inclusive, broad-based national dialogue process involving political parties, CSO, business, the security sector, traditional leaders and churches, among other players, they said.
The participants thus requested the church leaders to consult all these stakeholders towards an inclusive, comprehensive and broad-based national dialogue process, as a matter of urgency.
Some of the politicians and political parties represented at the meeting included Build Zimbabwe, Mthwakazi Republic Party, Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume, Nkosana Moyo (APA), Jealousy Mawarire, Linda Masarira (LEAD) and MDC-T’s Paurina Mpariwa.
Although seventeen political parties participated at the consultative meeting, the country’s two main political outfits ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance were perceptible absent.
ZHCOD’s Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata told NewZimbabwe.com. that MDC Alliance withdrew at the last minute and they did not give any reason. The cleric, however, could not explain why Zanu PF had also failed to show up.