ZHOCD expressed concern over the likelihood of violent clashes this Friday when the MDC takes to the streets to protest against Mnangagwa’s alleged failed economic policies. The opposition says after the Friday march in Harare, it plans to roll out similar protests in Bulawayo and Gweru on Monday and Tuesday next week. But, Zanu-PF youths and the party’s national political commissar Victor Matemadanda have vowed to block the protests.
Previous MDC demonstrations have often turned violent, with the party blaming it on infiltration by ruling party and State security agents.
“The church leaders also reflected on the growing tensions and threats of violence following the call for mass demonstration on the 16th of August 2019 by the MDC. The church leaders are deeply worried by the invocation in some quarters of the violence of August 2018 and January 2019 to sow fear and deepen political polarisation amongst our people,” ZHOCD said in a statement following its leaders’ meeting in Chinhoyi on Thursday.
“To this end, church leaders do hereby exhort His Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the leader of the MDC, Advocate Nelson Chamisa to explore the possibility of accelerating much-needed dialogue in this time of deepening national division and despair.
“The church leaders reiterated their call for an inclusive comprehensive national dialogue to help the people of Zimbabwe heal from past hurts, address urgently pressing national challenges and re-imagine a shared future of a united, just, peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa has so far met smaller opposition parties under the auspices of the Political Parties Dialogue (Polad), but Chamisa has snubbed the initiative demanding that the process be led by a neutral convener other than the “compromised” Zanu-PF leader whose election victory in July last year has been disputed by the MDC.
Meanwhile, fired up MDC youth leader Obey Sithole yesterday said threats of arrests or other forms of intimidation will not cow them into suspending their planned mass action.
“What motivates people to demonstrate goes beyond threats that are being churned out,” Sithole said.
“Threats might exist, but the suffering being experienced by the people gives them the courage to fight. Inasmuch as they can intimidate the people, Zimbabweans have suffered for a long time and I believe no form of threats will stop people. The whole country is craving for change, therefore, nothing can stop them, even threats of arrests or shooting will not stop them,” Sithole added.