Churches urge Zanu PF and CCC to move away from toxic electioneering

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HARARE – Zimbabwe has remained tense since the 23 August general elections, and a crackdown on opposition politicians has moved the country closer to the edge.

Now, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has appealed to political stakeholders not to hold the country in election mode, and “move on”.

The ZCC’s secretary-general, Reverend Wilfred Dimingu, met with Zanu-PF’s senior party members to lobby for peace and stability.

“We are just coming out of harmonised elections, and as a country, we need to move on to unite the nation and to walk together.

“So, we are here to exchange notes with the leadership of Zanu-PF and explore the areas where the church can also participate in nation-building issues and also unite our nation,” he said.

Attacks on Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters in several parts of the country were purely criminal crimes unrelated to his party, added Obert Mpofu, Zanu-PF’s secretary for administration.

“Some of the issues that they have raised are issues that revolve around criminality.

“If people have been assaulted or have been beaten up, it’s a matter for the police to deal with,” Mpofu said.

Soon after the general elections, CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi went into hiding.

The police offered a R19 000 reward for anyone who could help in his arrest.

In a statement, the police said he was wanted for allegedly defaulting in court over a public violence charge from 2020.

But Mkwananzi said: “I didn’t run away from the authorities. I ran away from bloodthirsty thugs.

“This is not a justice system. This is a Zanu-PF vindictive system. And I advise all our cadres never to face it.”

CCC leader Job Sikhala has spent more than 500 days in custody and is set to appear in court on 2 October.

Sikhala and 15 others, including CCC legislator Godfrey Sithole, are facing charges of inciting public violence.

Sikhala is the only one in the group who was not granted bail.

Also in prison is the leader of Transform Zimbabwe, Jacob Ngarivhume who was sentenced to four years in jail for organising the 31 July 2020 anti-government riots.

Early this week, another opposition legislator, Maureen Kademaunga, was detained overnight on three attempted murder charges and one for malicious damage to property belonging to a Zanu-PF rival.

The charges have since been dropped.

Her lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, said there was “no iota of evidence” linking her to allegations of political violence on election day.

The CCC has compiled a list of its activists who have been subjected to what it calls lawfare.

They are:

Patrick Cheza, Elias Madhuveko, McMaster Chidyahunye, Courage Mugova, and Delight Zinyemba all from Chirumanzu.

Councillor Alice Tsingano, Givemore Marovha, who was the party’s chief election agent, and Winana Konoso in Seke.

In Harare, the party said councillor Clayd Mashozhera and Daudi Jessub were “being persecuted on various trumped-up charges because they belong to the Citizens Coalition for Change”.

But the most prominent person yet to face a charge in court is outspoken legislator and deputy CCC spokesperson Ostallos Siziva.

Siziva has been accused of instigating public violence at a football match featuring the country’s bitter rivals, Highlanders FC, and Dynamos, at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Sunday.

So far, the Zimbabwe Republic Police said it arrested 19 people linked to football hooliganism on the day.

The CCC, in a statement, said: “The regime has intensified its crackdown against our members after a shambolic, disorganised, rigged, and fraudulent election. This continued persecution must stop.”

Siziva will appear in court on Friday. – Newzim