Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has criticized a Roman Catholic priest for his comments urging their leader Nelson Chamisa to accept defeat in the 2023 elections.
Father Fidelis Mukonori, who has previously acted as a mediator in political disputes, said in an interview that Chamisa should seek dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa rather than disputing the election results. He warned that protests by CCC supporters could turn violent.
However, CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi accused Mukonori of bias towards the ruling party. In a statement, Mkwananzi said the preacher’s view in the state newspaper “further affirm[s] questions about his relationship with the Mnangagwa regime.”
Chamisa has rejected the official results of the August presidential poll, which saw Mnangagwa declared winner with 52.6% of votes to Chamisa’s 44%. Observers also raised concerns about the election process. But Mukonori maintains that Chamisa should accept he “lost” and engage in discussions.
Mkwananzi argued any dialogue should not be based on labelling either side “winners” or “losers,” but rather on establishing a transitional interim government until credible new elections can be held. He proposed a broad dialogue process involving multiple stakeholders under Southern African regional body SADC’s oversight.
The sole purpose, according to Mkwananzi, should be adopting reforms to ensure free and fair polls. Both the opposition and observers have called into question the credibility of Zimbabwe’s recent elections amid accusations of ruling party manipulation.
The clerical figure’s remarks and the CCC response reflect ongoing political tensions in the aftermath of the disputed August vote. Disagreements remain over how to find a resolution that can build confidence in the electoral system.