Zimbabwean Catholic priest Father Fidelis Mukonori’s call for main opposition CCC leader Nelson Chamisa to accept defeat in the recent brazenly stolen elections and seek talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been given short shrift – swiftly rejected.
Mukonori – the midwife to Mnangagwa’s ascendancy through a November 2017 coup – has urged Chamisa to concede defeat and engage his rival as the winner.
“The one who says I am not satisfied and I believe the elections were not free and fair should also have the courage, it takes courage for someone to say let us sit down and discuss, it takes wisdom, courage is wisdom,” Mukonori said.
“It is essential, the two to sit down and discuss. Discussions are more difficult than toy-toying on the streets and it will get people killed.
“They (discussions) are more difficult because they require thinking and it is an exercise which has no text book and thinking requires someone who has to know how to think.”
He said it was not too late for Chamisa to seek an audience with Mnangagwa in talks that he has already framed and characterised as between “the winner (Mnangagwa) and the loser (Chamisa)”.
However, senior CCC official Gift Ostallos Siziba while they appreciated Mukonori’s call such initiatives must be based on facts, and not fiction.
“While the overtures of church leaders to try and resolve the political and constitutional crisis which intensified after the shambolic 23 August 2023 polls is welcome, it must be based on correct facts of the matter.
“The election was a sham because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) violated the constitution, electoral law, and regional and international guidelines on conducting free, fair, credible, and verifiable polls.
“This fact was well-captured by all observer missions, including the church which Father Mukonori represents.
“Egregious violations of the law by Zec mean that we hardly have any election to be talking about hence we and all progressive forces have called for a #FreshElection scaffolded by neutral domestic, regional, and international bodies.
“Father Mukonori knows that only free people can enter negotiations and indeed recognise any form of authority. As it stands, Mnangagwa has abused his access to the state machinery and reins of power to consolidate his illegitimate claim to the presidency.
“CCC members are daily being abducted tortured and jailed without trial while state security institutions and the judiciary have been weaponised to suppress the exercise of peaceful protests.
“We have leaders and members like Job Sikhala who have been incarcerated for over a year on the back of flimsy political charges.
“Thus, a starting point of Father Mukonori’s call should have been directed to Mnangagwa to respect and uphold the constitution, and immediately release all political prisoners.
“Father Mukonori should apply liberation theology in his interpretation of and approach to resolving the Zimbabwean crises. Liberation theology demands that we use the perspective of the poor and oppressed to see and explain political and civil problems.
“In this case, it is the ordinary Zimbabweans who have been robbed by a few individuals who have captured the state and its institutions for private gain.
“Victims can therefore not be asked to ‘accept defeat’ and ‘seek dialogue.’ If anything, victims must be afforded justice and, in this case, that can only be achieved through a fresh election in which the will of the people is freely expressed.”
Siziba said while calls for talks are noble and the CCC fully subscribes to them, the church must make such important pronouncements standing on the pedestal of morally sound propositions, not on shaky pillars of flawed and disputed elections.
Meanwhile, Chamisa Spokesman Promise Mkwananzi also said: “Noting the statement from Father Mukonori, it is essential to put things into perspective before responding to his call.
“While Father Mukonori, has for years been a respected Father figure of the church in Zimbabwe, his conspicuous role in the events that led to the deposing of President Robert Mugabe through a coup by Mr. Mnangagwa diminished his societal standing and respect he once enjoyed.”
“His skewed statements in today’s Herald Newspaper further affirm the questions which Zimbabweans have about the relationship Father Mukonori has with the Mnangagwa regime. Father Mukonori ought to extricate himself from this partisan position if he is to retain the respect which he commanded over the years,” he said.