Church calls parties to dialogue: launches National Dialogue process


By Kudakwashe Matambo


The country is burning, its economy ailing. There is tension everywhere- and the Church is trying to help the country heal. 

On Thursday the 7th of February 2019, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference together with other heads of Christian Denominations successfully launched a National Dialogue process during a National Leadership Prayer Breakfast meeting at the Harare International Conference Centre. 

The prayer meeting, and the launch of the process, is part of the Church’s ongoing efforts to address what the Zimbabwe Heads Of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) view as “three diseases affecting the country’s wellbeing: - unhealed and broken relationships, weak foundations of constitutional democracy and an ailing economy.”

“We come together in this place, only a few days after lives were lost, many were injured, property was destroyed and our relationships as a nation were further damaged and our reputation internationally destroyed, said Rev Fr Simba Mutandwa in his call to worship. 

“The last few days have confirmed what the Churches have always viewed as the three diseases affecting the wellbeing of our nation, (a) unhealed and broken relationships, (b) weak foundations of constitutional democracy, and (c) an ailing economy.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, ZCBC Secretary General, Fr Fredrick Chiromba said the process launched is a continuation of the process which started in 2006 with the drafting of a national vision, ‘The Zimbabwe We Want.’

“We can say this is a milestone. The process started with the drafting of a discussion document, The Zimbabwe We Want were the Church adopted the strategy of engagement, dialogue and transformation because there was so much polarization,” said Fr Chiromba. 

“We realise that the polarization was coming back into the nation leading to the recent disturbances, the deaths of the civilians on the 1st of August 2018 and this January where a number of civilians died. You realise there is this conflict and the Churches really thought dialogue is more needed now than ever before hence this initiative to call the nation to dialogue.”

While the meeting was targeted at political leaders, government officials, the judiciary and justice sector officials and various sector leaders, Fr Chiromba said the “intention is that this whole process will cascade to the grassroots.” 

The meeting was attended by hundreds of reputable heads of Churches including Catholic bishops Robert Ndlovu (ZCBC President), Raymond Mupandasekwa and Rudolf Nyandoro. Dr Ezekiel Guti (ZAOGA FIF), Bishop Nehemia Mutendi (Zion Christian Church), Bishop Dr Solomon Zwana (Methodist Church in Zimbabwe). 

Commenting on the event, Silveira House Jesuit Centre for Development and Social Justice Director, Fr Anold Moyo SJ said the process is important in bringing political leaders together to solve the conflict as it is a “manifestation of hate and discontent within our population.

“It is important that the leaders respond in unison to these developments and in particular to find the solutions to the economic impulse that the country is facing.” 

He further implored other Catholic institutions to ‘concretize the peace process and bring it down to the grassroots so that the whole population of Zimbabwe walk together in the dialogues.’ 

Prior to the national elections in July 2018, Silveira House held a MultiParty interface where more almost all the Presidential candidates attended a prayer session and delivered their party manifestos. 


National political dialogue

Addressing the participants MDC-Alliance President, Advocate Nelson Chamisa said his party stand ready to dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s party and government. 

“I have been ready yesterday, last year, today, and tomorrow, the next hour. If there is a room even at this hotel to meet with President Mnangagwa to resolve the issues affecting the people of Zimbawe because any minute longer is a life wasted,” said Advocated Chamisa. 

Clarifying why he did not attend the dialogue meeting held at the State House chaired by President Mnangagwa, Advocate Chamisa said a dialogue requires an independent credible 

“For a good reason if we are to dialogue we need an independent, credible, respectable mediator and convener. The church in this case is appropriate the convener, and we will be ready anytime.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa chaired a meeting on Wednesday the 6th of February at the State House with leaders of 21 political parties that contested during the 2018 Presidential elections.

The meeting planned and formed four committees to deliberate on the institutional framework of the dialogue, the agenda items for the dialogue, to determine the convener and the last will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the agreed issues. 

Calls by religious leaders. 

Several religious leaders who attended the prayer meeting exhorted the political parties and government to be open to dialogue, inorder to bring peace. 

Zion Christian Church leader, Bishop Nehemia Mutendi delivered an emotion plea to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and President of MDC-A Nelson Chamisa to emulate their predecessors Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai in dialogue. 

“Tsvangirai made peace with Mugabe and he did not consider it humiliation but he did it for peace. When Mugabe made peace President Mnangagwa was his right hand man, when Tsvangirai made peace Chamisa was his right hand man so why can’t it happen now? This can be done through this national peace dialogue process.”

ZAOGA Forward in Faith founder and leader, Dr Ezekiel Guti also bemoaned the lack of peace in the country and said leaders will have to compromise and bring peace to the nation. 

“Unity never comes itself, we have to lose some of our interests to accommodate others.”




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