Zimbabwe: Churches Want Stake in National Dialogue

29 November 2019

Churches have thrown their weight behind political dialogue, which was initiated by President Mnangagwa immediately after last year's harmonised elections, but want the engagements to be comprehensive and broad-based.

In fact, the Church wants the dialogue being held under the auspices of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) to include them.

This was said Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary-general Reverend Dr Kenneth Mtata in an interview with The Herald.

The ZCC is made up of 26 churches with full membership, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ), 10 associate church bodies, among them the Roman Catholic Church, and three observer church organisations.

Dr Mtata's remarks come after MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa called for the political parties dialogue to be limited to his party and Zanu-PF.

Mr Chamisa is on a whirlwind tour, lobbying SADC member states to convince President Mnangagwa to engage him outside the POLAD framework.

But Dr Mtata said 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.

"The issue of 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 Dr Mtata.

He urged politicians to open a number of dialogue platforms besides Polad, which include church leaders, chiefs and civil society groups.

"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, (the) 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," he said.

Dr Mtata said a foreign mediator, who is being demanded by MDC-Alliance, was not necessary as local challenges require internal solutions.

"We expect MDC-Alliance leader Chamisa to engage President Mnangagwa in a respectable manner for dialogue since he is our statesman," he added.

Dr Mtata called for an end to toxic politics, which he said divided the people and scared away investors.

"We cannot have a scenario where President Mnangagwa is lobbying for engagement and re-engagement with the rest of the world, while on the other hand, we have MDC-Alliance leadership moving around the globe saying 'do not invest your money in Zimbabwe because the environment is not conducive'.

"We need unity of purpose among Zimbabweans," he said.

President Mnangagwa has said dialogue under the auspices of Polad was the best way as it included diverse political groups.

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