SENIOR STAFF WRITER
OUTSPOKEN Zimbabwe Divine Destiny Church leader Ancelimo Magaya says clerics must be frank with President Emmerson Mnangagwa as they push for an all-inclusive dialogue to end the country’s decades-long political and economic crises.
This comes as the Church, through the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD), recently met Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa separately in efforts to nudge them to the negotiating table.
In a statement yesterday, Magaya said the Church must speak truth to power if the country’s problems were to be resolved.
“We note with interest, a recent statement by … Mnangagwa that he met with church leaders under the auspices of Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations.
“This engagement whose profile has somehow been kept at a low profile is nevertheless commendable. We are optimistic that the engagement was carried out in an atmosphere of sincerity and frankness. This carries true hope for the nation since ZHOCD is a more authentic representative of the broader church,” Magaya said.
He said ZHOCD as faithful representatives of the Church must be a bold voice that delivers uncompromised truth.
“Historical events in which the Church engaged the State in a similar manner has left more sorrow than joy for the broader Church and citizens alike, who trusted their Church leaders to speak the heart and mind of God to the powers that be.
“Where such dialogues sought to address injustices, in which government was implicated, the Church exhibited timidity and weakness as it inclined more to the persuasive-begging position, while government was boastful and arrogant. Instead of advising, the Church representatives ended up getting lectures on their role while they, in turn, started heaping praises and flattery on their intimidators (politicians), God forbid! In other instances, the Church even stooped so low and ended up begging for benefits from the government. What a mockery! In this case the Church did not seem to hold dialogue from the position of a powerful institution,” Magaya said.
Mnangagwa recently told his ruling Zanu PF politburo that he had met the ZHOCD and Catholic bishops as part of his efforts to engage with key stakeholders in the country.
“Dialogue must be encouraged throughout all inceptions of our society in the spirit of constructive engagement, among others.
“This is the culture of the second republic, of national building … peace… harmony … unity and love as we develop the Zimbabwe we love,” Mnangagwa said then.
The meeting with clerics, especially the Catholic bishops, came after they had sharply criticised the government’s handling of the foiled July 31 mass protests.
In particular, the Catholic bishops’ letter in which they said “the march has not ended”, did not go down well by the government — which issued a strong warning against clerics dabbling in politics.
This comes as there is renewed hope that the much-needed and much-talked about national dialogue could happen soon.
Leading clerics have consistently said that they preferred locally-mediated national dialogue — further dismissing calls for a foreign mediator by the opposition and some civil society organisations.
Mnangagwa has also said emphatically that he would not seek outside help to foster national dialogue with the opposition and other key stakeholders in the country.
It also comes as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) have been attempting to assist Zimbabwe to end its decades-long political and economic crises.