The Sunday News
Kuda Bwititi, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT-ELECT Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa has committed to upholding peace and working with churches to promote nation-building to refocus the national agenda.
Yesterday, he once again reached out to opposition political parties, saying political actors “should embrace each other and move forward”. Cde Mnangagwa made the remarks at a prayer meeting hosted by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches to encourage political leaders to bring closure to the election season and foster national cohesion.
“I appeal to my Presidential (election) colleagues … that every five years there is a day that the people of Zimbabwe decide who to give a mandate to run the country. After that is over, we all, in my view, should embrace each other and move forward.
“Again, when the other day comes after five years, we have the opportunity to repeat the same and say who do you want to carry the mantle of the State for the next five years.
But through all this, peace, peace, unity and love should be the flagship of Zimbabwe. That way, as a nation, there is no limit as to how much we can develop our country and improve our lives.”
President Mnangagwa said he had expected other Presidential candidates to attend the prayer meeting as it would have been an opportunity to chart the way forward in harmony.
“I am grateful that the Zimbabwe Council of Churches found it proper, necessary, useful and important that we have this breakfast prayer.
The composition of this breakfast prayer, according to my invitation, was that all contestants of just-ended harmonised elections would be present. I have not met some of my colleagues, so I thought I would meet them here and they would meet me also here and it would have been an extremely nice opportunity for the 23 of us to hug and proceed.”
MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, a pastor, skipped the prayer meeting and instead addressed a media conference during which he threatened street protests. President Mnangagwa said the State could only function efficiently in a peaceful environment.
“As the State, our role in the new dispensation is to say what programmes to introduce; what economic and social programmes should we introduce so that the life of our people improves? Some families and communities are far much better than other families and communities in Zimbabwe, but we still have families that need assistance who cannot on themselves improve their lives. The State has a role to do that, and that can only be done in a peaceful Zimbabwe, in an environment where peace prevails.”
The church, he said, was pivotal to nation-building. While hailing the peaceful environment that characterised the 2018 election campaigns, he said Government regretted the deaths of six people during opposition-instigated violent protests in Harare on August 1.
“I feel that with a free conscience that my party and most parties did commit themselves wholeheartedly to a peaceful campaign and I am happy that for a change, Zimbabwe went through an entirely peaceful campaign.
“This made us proud as Zimbabweans that we can do it if we commit ourselves to peace and unity. We also had an excellent voting process, in my view, on the 30th of July. The only worrying situation happened two days later, on the 1st of August, when violence erupted and we lost some lives. We regret it.”
After the meeting, ZCC general secretary Reverend Kenneth Mtata said religious leaders wanted the country to move forward.
“We know it has been a closely contested election. Emotions and hearts were broken, which resulted in deepening the fragmentation that we already have.
We thought that it would be important to bring some healing and closure to this election and create a new sense of direction to see if we can bring convergence to Zimbabwe as we move forward as a nation. We think it is incumbent upon all of us to say the election period is over and Zimbabweans must put their energies towards a process of nation-building,” he said.
He said the ZCC would continue providing platforms for political leaders to dialogue.
“There are some who were conspicuous by their absence, but we have been in touch with all opposition politicians. We believe that this is not the end, we need to continue to reach out to them.”
ZCC advisory committee chair Mrs Vimbai Nyemba added: “We are encouraged that the President wants us to continuously engage with other political leaders and we are going to do that. We will continue to talk about peace and love.”
Among dignitaries at the prayer meeting were Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga; ministers Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Christopher Mushohwe and Miriam Chikukwa; and opposition National Constitutional Assembly president Professor Lovemore Madhuku.