HARARE – As Zimbabwe’s economic crisis deepens, amid infighting in both the ruling Zanu PF party and opposition MDC, Daily News’ assistant editor Maxwell Sibanda sought the church’s view by interviewing Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) leader Johannes Ndanga, who bemoaned the state of affairs and blamed the leadership for failing to deliver on two aspects — peace and development.
Q: You say there is no peace in the country, why do you say so?
A: I say so because what I only see is conflict and fighting. There is no peace in Zanu PF, in MDC and PDP (People’s Democratic Party) as politicians fight for positions. Everyday they are chasing each other from political parties.
Q: It seems there is also no peace in ACCZ as your former secretary-general Mathias Tsine has announced that he is forming a splinter group — Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council — whose patron is Zanu PF central committee member Jimayi Muduvuri.
A: Yes, indeed there is no peace as well and now we have Muduvuri wanting to be patron of the splinter group. He wants to lead the church and would like to take people to see the president. Is the president now a tourist attraction?
How can someone whose foot is not in the church want to be patron? I understand there are some individuals who like him to be their patron, but they are not in the majority.
Q: Who chose Muduvuri to be patron, do you know?
A: He says he was seconded by Mudzidzi Wimbo (Aaron Mhukuta) to that post, but I am not sure how close they are because he (Muduvuri) did not attend the funeral of Wimbo’s wife.
Q: Former Vice President Joice Mujuru used to be ACCZ patron, is she still?
A: Not anymore, and for your information, we have bestowed President Robert Mugabe with that honour.
After the flak we received when we appointed Amai Mujuru, we decided we will not choose anyone else apart from our president.
We chose him because he is the president of Zimbabwe and not because of his political affiliation to Zanu PF. This is not political but spiritual.
Q: But will that not create more problems because there are some who say you are Zanu PF and rightly so, in the last election you campaigned for the party?
A: Yes, I campaigned for Zanu PF and urged our members to rally behind the party and the reason was simple. Before that election, we wrote two letters. One to Mugabe and the other to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC ignored our letter but Zanu PF responded.
Q: What was the message in the letters?
A: We had simply asked them to explain to us their policies and manifestos so that we could decide which horse to run with.
Mugabe replied, Tsvangirai didn’t and we thought we could support those that had given us an ear.
Q: Could you have supported Tsvangirai had he replied your letter?
A: Yes, if we were satisfied we could have campaigned for him.
Q: As for the 2018 elections, have you already written the letters?
A: No, this is one of the issues that we will deliberate at the congress. The membership will decide which horse we will run with.
Q: How is the financial status at ACCZ because we understand you have been taken to court over some rental arrears?
A: The financial status at ACCZ is bad and this has been compounded by the secretariat’s mismanagement of funds, and I have heaps of affidavits from members who have been swindled money that was meant for a housing project. This is one of the issues that we will be seized with at the coming congress.
For some time now, I have not been working at the office but have been at the farm. I had let everything to the secretariat led by our then secretary-general, Tsine.
Q: But he (Tsine) is saying you are tempering with the organisation’s constitution so that you can run again as ACCZ president at this month’s elective congress.
A: First and foremost, I am the one who picked Tsine to become secretary-general of ACCZ. He wasn’t elected. I hand picked him. Our constitution does not say I can’t run.
It has no limits. But what Tsine did was prepare some proposals for amendments that have not been effected, and it is those that he is using to say the constitution does not allow Ndanga to stand.
Q: So you are standing as president?
A: The constitution allows me to stand but with all elections, I have to be nominated. I do not nominate myself. And we are saying all those who want to stand any of the positions have to clear the first hurdle, which is the province.
It is only the province that can nominate you and there will not be any campaigns at the congress.
Q: But won’t people say you are clinging to power, you are refusing to let go?
A: People also forget that ACCZ is my creation; I am just following a spiritual calling from God. I was given this assignment by God and the problem with people is that when an organisation grows, they then want to take over.
Q: Tsine also accuses you of having personalised ACCZ and that it is a one man show.
A: I do not know about that but in recent times, it is Tsine who led bishops to Israel and I have been with him to the United States.
I do not know why he is saying I am single-handedly running the organisation. We had a full secretariat in which he was head that used to run affairs.
Q: You have been very vocal on the sensitive Gukurahundi issue, why is it so?
A: People think Gukurahundi is a sensitive subject but I do not see it that way. I strongly believe it is a peace issue and Zanu PF should come as the first stakeholder in a bid to solve it once and for all.
To me Gukurahundi is a collective sin for the whole nation because if a policeman shoots a person by mistake, maybe with a stray bullet, the sin is not only for him/her but for the whole nation.
Q: What is expected at the congress?
A: This will be an elective congress and as such, there are a lot of positions to be filled, including that of ACCZ president.
On October 28, which is the second day of the congress, we will hold the Peace Blessing Festival where we are blessing 6 000 wedding couples.
The other issue we will look at is the financial status of the organisation, which is in a bad state.
Q: You have been calling on the Registrar General’s office to register marriage officers from within your church, how far has this gone?
A: Yes, that is a very concerning issue because we are having our marriages presided over by Catholic priests, but the problem is they themselves do not marry, hence they do not believe in marriage. How then can they bless something they despise?
We have invited the registrar general to our congress so he can address this issue because their requirements are out of reach for our members.
Out of 3 000 marriage officers, only 20 have been registered and they are not enough to cover our membership.
We will continue pushing until we are legally allowed to officiate at our own functions.