Churches in Manicaland have called on Government to include Christian communities on issues pertaining to nation building and reconciliation.
Representatives of churches also called for the upholding of human rights and accused the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) of being the number one culprit in the province.
They expressed their concerns during a meeting with the Minister of State for Manicaland Province, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, in Mutare yesterday.
Anglican Diocese of Manicaland bishop, Erick Ruwona, who spoke on behalf of other denominations, said it was high time that Government engaged churches in its endeavours aimed at nation building.
“The first thing that we want to share with you is about inclusivity. Manicaland has a history of diversity in approach to political matters, although in the past it has not been considered. The church finds diversity to be a health resource for development. We, therefore, welcome your pledge as the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs to work inclusively with all people from all political parties, who contribute to the common good of Manicaland. Of special concern is the exclusion of the Diasporan community,” he said.
“The other thing which worries us is the violation of human rights. As the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, we call upon you to assist us in that regard, especially the police. We would like you to see to it that the police uphold human rights when executing their duties.”
Bishop Ruwona bemoaned the closure of industries in Manicaland. The churches urged Government to support community development projects and enact economic policies that allow people to generate income.
“The other thing that has been worrying us is corruption. We pray that issues of corruption are dealt with. We only rely on hearsay and we are not in the picture as to what happened in Marange,” said Bishop Ruwona.
Bishop Ruwona added: “People in Marange were given promises that were never fulfilled. If that was corruption which was at play, we do not know. We, therefore, urge you, as the Minister of State, to set up an anti-corruption body for Manicaland.”
Bishop Ruwona said they were looking forward to engaging all political parties so that they map a way forward to have peaceful harmonised elections next year. He said they were looking forward to have free and fair elections in 2018.
“Elections are coming and as churches we plead that these elections be held in a manner where results will be acceptable by all contesting parties,” said Bishop Ruwona. We are appealing to political parties to ensure that we hold free and fair elections. We are also appealing for a forum where we discuss with candidates and hear what they will be bringing to the people. I do not think as churches we cannot afford to do that.”
Bishop Ruwona said they were a lot of outstanding issues that occurred among people, which were never resolved. He said they were appealing to Government to create an environment where the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission engaged churches when discharging its duties.
The church leaders also called for improvement in social service delivery in the province. They also appealed for Government and local authorities to provide land for the construction of churches at affordable prices.
Sen Mutsvangwa promised to work with churches to bring development to the province. Zanu-PF Women’s League and youths, on the same day, held a congratulatory ceremony for Sen Mutsvangwa on her appointment as the Provincial Minister after she met with church representatives.
Addressing guests at the ceremony, Sen Mutsvangwa warned all land barons, saying she was looking forward to equitable distribution of land in the province. She also took time to hand-over Christmas gifts to wives of traditional leaders and district administrators, who attended the ceremony. The Herald