The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Church Urged Not to Be Partisan

The Church should not be partisan and should support the Government in power. Church leaders gathered in Harare yesterday for the Lead Zimbabwe conference said the Church should desist from imposing political affiliations on congregants.

The speakers said Church leaders should allow divergent political views in the church.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara urged political parties to work together for a shared national vision.

He said this would compliment the political and economic stability brought by the inclusive Government.

"We had progress in 2008 and we were able to come together in a fashionable manner and one of the major outcomes of that agreement was the ability to work together. We brought in some semblance of political stability.

"So if we were to look at the score card our major achievement was some semblance of political stability and of economic stability."

Prof Mutambara however, noted the lack of a shared national vision and the partisan approach to national issues by political parties.

"The frustrations to me have been quite a number. The first one is the lack of a shared vision. People are very partisan driven.

"What can my party get out of this? So the absence of a shared national vision has been a source of frustration," he said.

He said Zimbabweans should not mourn about problems bedeviling the country when solutions are within.

"I would want to see a Zimbabwe that is globally competitive. I would want to see Government the civic society working together," he said.

The church leaders including Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations' Dr Goodwill Shana, Zaoga Bishop Washington Rupapa and Reverand Edison Tsvakai of Zviratidzo Zvevapositori Church contributed to the panel discussion during the conference.

"As a church we are saying we pray and support the Government of the day as prescribed by the Bible," Bishop Tsvakai said.

Bishop Shana said adopting a partisan position would result in the marginalisation of other members of the congregation.

"It is important to avoid this partisan position.

"The church is a place where there should be divergent views, where there is much representation and different opinions are entertained."

Bishop Shana said church leaders should not impose their political affiliation on the congregation.

"Bishops also have their political views, but these views should not be imposed on the congregation.

"A church is a platform for unity and a place of refuge. We must be nationalistic rather than partisan in our approach," He said.

Bishop Shana said it would be wrong for churches to be attached to certain political parties.

Ministers who attended the meeting included Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Savious Kasukuwere and information Technology, Nelson Chamisa.

Minister Kasukuwere highlighted the empowerment programmes including the share ownership schemes were major achievements by Government.

Minister Kasukuwere commended Lead Zimbabwe for embarking on such dialogue.

He said the discussions would give politicians and church leaders a platform to discuss critical issues that help in the development of the country.

"In the past two years we have seen communities benefit from the mining sector in our bid to fight poverty. We are also seeing more and more people going into mining.

"I think one of the things the church is element of prosperity preached by the church that we need to take control of future," Minister Kasukuwere said.

He said authorities need to have more dialogue with church and collaborate, exchange information in a bid to eradicate poverty.

He said land reform programme was a non-partisan programme that benefited over 400 000 families.

"We need to disabuse ourselves from that notion that all who befitted under the land reform programme are politically connected. Empowerment is about Zimbabweans," he said.

His Information Communication and Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa called on the church to work with Government.

Minister Chamisa said he was privileged to work and learn from Zimbabwe's founding fathers such as President Mugabe.

"I count myself lucky and blessed. I am serving in a Cabinet with the founding fathers of our nation," he said.

At 34, Minister Chamisa is one of Zimbabwe's youngest Cabinet ministers.

"It's a privilege. I thank God. I never imagined that I would be able to share a platform with President Mugabe . . . never mind the differences. Just the cross pollination of generations," he said.

Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn president Dr Simba Makoni called on the need for restoration of honesty and integrity.

He said Zimbabwe should also go back to the core values and aspirations the liberation struggle.

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