HARARE – As political tension continues to rise in Zimbabwe, churches are calling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to engage in dialogue to stop the country from going over the precipice.
This comes as the international community has registered its displeasure at allegations of a State-sponsored crackdown on opposition leaders — many of whom are said to have gone into hiding following last week’s violent clashes between security agents and protesters.
“We ask you (Mnangagwa) to create avenues for inclusive dialogue and engagement as well as to heed the complaints raised by the MDC Alliance.
“The nation needs you to commit to a nation-building dialogue process aimed at uniting the nation and creating an inclusive way forward.
“We ask you to consider and prioritise a formal constitutional recognition for the leader of the main opposition consistent with practices in other developed democracies,” the Zimbabwe Council of Churches said in an unusually forthright statement.
On its part, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) also called for dialogue and prayers to resolve the country’s deepening political crisis.
“As the EFZ, we call upon all Christians in Zimbabwe to raise their voices and render their hearts to the heavens and before God in whose hands our future lies.
“Let us all seek peace and pursue it through peaceful and nonviolent means. As the Church, we commit the nation into the hands of God.
“We urge all political parties, the leadership in particular, to provide critical leadership towards their supporters, to desist from violent expressions while channelling all grievances through the appropriate means and channels as provided by the Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe,” the EFZ said.
The patron of the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council (Zacc), Jimayi Muduvuri, said: “The people have spoken, they have voted for … Mnangagwa … All parties must accept the results and move forward as a country.
“We pray for peace so that we develop our country. Violence is not good for our country. Our president always preaches peace and we must listen”.
Zimbabwe recently held its first elections without both ousted former leader Robert Mugabe and the late popular MDC founder, Morgan Tsvangirai — who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon early this year.
The historic elections pitted Mnangagwa against Chamisa, who polled 44,3 percent of the vote in a tightly-contested presidential race.
Mnangagwa, 75, narrowly avoided a runoff by polling 50,8 percent of the election, which Chamisa has alleged was rigged by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
However, the July 30 polls have been tarnished by the deaths of seven people who are said to have been shot by the army during protests which erupted in the Harare central business district (CBD) last Wednesday.
The violence and the army’s involvement in the protests took the gloss off the historic elections, which had until then been characterised by peace.