Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, a number of prominent clerics said as the situation continued to take a turn for the worse, it was now even more important for Zimbabwe’s leaders to hold talks if the nation was to avoid total chaos.
This comes as the country’s opposition and pro-democracy groups have threatened to unfurl more protests, after last week’s planned mass demonstrations flopped.
The fresh calls for broad-based dialogue also come as several high-profile people and other interest groups have been calling for Mnangagwa to end his long-drawn out feud with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, in the country’s interest.
The outspoken leader of the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny Church Ancelimo Magaya, was among the church leaders who told the Daily News yesterday that dialogue was now the only way to go.
“We wish to say the government is held liable to the suffering of the masses and we call upon President Mnangagwa to climb down from his high horse and open up for dialogue that will result in … political stability, justice and peace.
“We call upon the church to strengthen their resolve in advancing the interest of the poor masses in advocating for social justice. The church should speak the truth boldly to the powers-that-be.
“We urge all Zimbabweans to keep pressing for leadership accountability and using all non-violent means to force the government to open up for dialogue,” Magaya said.
“As the church, which is a voice of conscience to the nation, we observe that there is increasing polarity between the State and the masses – with rising tension, mistrust and suspicion, as well as continued arrests where government uses the lockdown regulations to thwart dissenting voices.
“The recent crackdown on the organisers of the July 31 demonstration against corruption while the corrupt remain free is diabolic to say the least,” he added.
The general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), Blessings Makwara, also said there was now an urgent need for all Zimbabweans to come together to defuse the escalating political tension in the country.
“Zimbabwe is at the crossroads between danger and opportunity. Let’s decide the path forward together. We still reiterate that there is a need to find each other. Open dialogue is the way to go.
“The issue of emphasising the concept of winner takes all is failing us. Government cannot do it alone and other parties cannot do without the government.
“We started our 90 days of praying in June because we need this nation to find a new pathway, which is dialogue,” Makwara told the Daily News.
“We are still making efforts to engage everyone. We have been engaging with the Head of State, the opposition and civil society and we will continue doing that.
“Let’s be able to realise that there is a crisis of expectation. So, we must come together,” he added.
On his part, the administrator of the Harare Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart – Father Kennedy Muguti – said it was time for Zimbabwe’s leaders to put aside their political differences to heal growing divisions in the country.
“It’s true that the situation in the country is tense. People are suffering and … are socially, politically and economically depressed.
“There is a need for everyone to sit down and talk. In talks there is a need to have an element of faithfulness and to tell each other the truth. Telling each other the truth must not be taken as an attack.
“We call upon all political parties, civil society and churches to come together and speak with one voice because the current situation is not healthy,” Muguti told the Daily News.
This comes as Friday’s planned mass protests failed to take off, after authorities made heavy deployments of security forces around the country.
At the same time, security forces have maintained a heavy presence around the country, amid talk of more protests by the opposition and pro-democracy groups.
All this also comes as Zimbabwe is under a dusk-to-dawn curfew that was imposed by authorities to try and combat the spread of the lethal coronavirus – which is now running amok in the country.
Both Chamisa and Mnangagwa have previously said that they were interested in dialogue, although nothing concrete has happened – primarily because of differences over the form and platform on which the talks should take place.
On his part, Mnangagwa has been consistent that any talks with Chamisa should be held under the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) – where he regularly holds meetings with fringe opposition leaders.
Chamisa himself has repeatedly ruled out joining Polad – demanding instead direct dialogue with Mnangagwa.
At one time, both men appeared ready to finally end their brawling when former South African leader Thabo Mbeki held talks with them last year over the country’s worsening economic rot.
Mbeki – who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition giant Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe, who are both late – was in the country in December last year, to try and nudge Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold direct talks.