The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president has launched a campaign on social media to encourage Christians to register in their numbers to vote in next year’s elections, saying they have a strategic role to play in Zimbabwe’s redemption.
Munyeza (SM) is using social media, where he has a huge following, to preach the gospel, which he hopes will help end voter apathy and bring the change Zimbabwe desperately needs.
He spoke to our chief reporter Everson Mushava (EM) about why he strongly feels Christians will have a big say in next year’s polls. Below are excerpts of the interview.
EM: You have been posting on social media that “the Christian vote must decide”. What is this about?
SM: Biblically speaking, Christians have a strategic role to play in a nation’s redemption, development and prosperity. Their primary responsibility being that they do so according to the will of God in expanding His kingdom and the church being the agent of the kingdom of God.
They need to hear the voice of God, proclaim it to the nation and be involved in the fulfilment of that proclamation.
Researches recently done show that the church has the strongest voice and the largest constituency yet our nation continues to be in an economic and leadership crisis, this is an oxymoron when we consider what the church’s role is.
In other words, the church is culpable for where we find ourselves as a nation. The only way to effect leadership change in a constitutional democracy is through voting. The Bible says we must not only be doers of the word but hearers as well. James 1:22.
EM: Have you set yourself any targets in this campaign and what impact do you envisage?
SM: Under the discussion document The Zimbabwe We Want, which was launched in 2006, the church has been on a journey of national cohesion, development and prosperity through common vision, common values and common initiatives.
Therefore, the campaign is directed at Christians to act accordingly in registering to vote, ensuring they vote and more importantly, ensuring that their vote is protected when the time comes.
The process of all this does not start at the election date but much earlier. As people participate in this democratic process, they are able to vote the leaders who are righteous, competent, mature and have the needs of the people at heart.
The church has concluded that we are where we are due to bad leadership, poor governance, greed, selfishness and outright cruelty.
This campaign should bring out the church, which has been forced into hiding through fear and intimidation. It should ensure we have the leadership that God wants.
EM: President Robert Mugabe has in the past reacted angrily to clergymen that dabble in politics. Are you ready for the consequences of your actions?
SM: It’s unfortunate that our environment has become toxic, polarised and counter-development. The preamble to the constitution clearly articulates that one of our values is that we should embrace diversity at all levels.
I’ve been a victim of these so-called mudslingings and intimidations. However, I will not cower in fear because I know it’s a passing phase and it comes with the territory.
My focus is to project the role of the church, which is speaking truth to power, in love and without fear or favour.
I also need to model the basic role of a Christian, which is being the salt and light of the world. Matthew 5:13-16. The more toxic and polarised the environment, the more we need to be salt and light to it.
EM: What drew you into political activism considering that you are a former successful executive and now as businessman? Successful executives rarely go that route in Zimbabwe?
SM: I am a Christian first before I am anything else. The basic role of any Christian is driven by our role as salt and light, basically this is activism.
We can never separate politics from our role as salt and light because politics is the way people’s lives, livelihood, development, progress and prosperity is fashioned.
In Zimbabwe, if one truly becomes salt and light, he will be labelled as dabbling into politics. elsewhere this is hailed and celebrated. We all know the role of Martin Luther King Jr, he belonged to the clergy.
Most of our liberators across the continent were successful professionals. What I’m doing is not new and should be seen as the norm rather than an exception.
I’m also aware that capital is very shy and the bad political environment chases capital, both local and foreign. My view is informed through what the Psalmist says; Psalms 84:10: For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. I cannot be a success in a sea of poverty! My heart is for the poor, oppressed and broken-hearted. Luke 4:18-19.
EM: Why do you think there is a lot of voter apathy among Zimbabweans?
SM: There are a few reasons in my observation why there is voter apathy. Firstly, our political leadership over the years has been less than inspirational, so people do not find it exciting and inspiring to go out there and express their rights in celebration.
Secondly, there has been fear, intimidation and sadly loss of life, limp and property and therefore the eligible voters have played it safe and not [seen it] worth the risk, particularly in a situation where the leadership has also been uninspiring.
Thirdly, the uneven playing field for voters and political players where our laws are not aligned to the constitution has made many people think it’s a waste of time because of the skewed, unfair and sometimes illegal conditions. Fourthly, there has been real incidences of voter rigging which means the outcome is predetermined, which has made many not take interest because their involvement would not make any difference.
EM: There have been many reports linking you to Nkosana Moyo’s newly formed Alliance for the People’s Agenda. Is there any truth in such reports? Are you a member of any political party?
SM: I’m not a member of Nkosana Moyo’s outfit and I’m not involved in any way. I’m also not a member of a political party and I’m not involved in any party politics.
However, I would like to make a principled observation and point. The question you ask should never be asked in a constitutional democracy like ours.
Elsewhere, this question is not asked; instead, it is expected that I be involved in any political movement as my conscience determines.
The only limitation for me as part of clergy leadership would be that my role should be non-partisan to party politics but should challenge politics as explained above.
This I recently articulated well in my unsolicited advice to the ruling party, the opposition parties and the general voting public through my social media platform.
EM: Among those that have thrown their hats into the ring as potential presidential election candidates in 2018 — Tsvangirai, Moyo and Mujuru — who do you think is better placed to take Zimbabwe forward?
SM: My quick answer is that whoever connects the best with the suffering masses deserves and should be well-placed to take us forward.
Political leadership is more like church leadership in that it’s a public office, purely to serve the needs of the people.
This means one must be connected to the people they want to serve and they must have the capacity and ability to deliver according to the mandate placed upon them.
Where it comes to political leadership, I always put emotional intelligence ahead of intellectual intelligence although both are needed.
I will be able to give you a specific answer on who is better placed as we get closer to the elections, at the moment there is just too much dust in the political environment.
EM: What are your thoughts on opposition claims that political parties that are being formed at this stage or independent candidates will split votes in favour of Zanu PF?
SM: Let me start off by stating a principle before I respond to your question specifically. Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy and not a monarchy. It goes without saying that people must have a variety of leaders and political formations to choose from, therefore the vote splitting question should never arise.
I also notice that this remark and proposition is coming from the main opposition, which is the official opposition. I see this as part of politicking and therefore nothing wrong with their view as they try and consolidate numbers under their wing, thus enhancing their chances to win.
However, this must never stop other political formations and independent candidates contesting on their own because that is part of the democratic process and must be upheld.
Unfortunately, as said earlier, our politics have become polarised and bi-partisan, which has caused a two-horse race, more like the USA politics.
There is also memories of when the opposition won in 2008 when we had a three- horse race which denied the main opposition the ascendency to power even though they had a majority win.
Once again, this is part of electioneering in our current election season and should be allowed to play out. In summary, the question of vote splitting should not arise. however, I see a desire for convergency.
EM: Are you considering standing as a candidate for any position come 2018?
SM: At the moment I’m not considering to stand for any political position.
My focus is to work with the churches in ensuring our elections will produce a leadership that will give us the “Zimbabwe We Want” as well as ensuring that we have violent-free 2018 elections and beyond.
I love my country and want to leave it a better country than I found it. At the moment, my country is in a bad state and I want to play my part in changing its fortunes for the better.