THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) on Wednesday met MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to discuss, among others, the party’s planned protests after voicing concern over potential outbreak of violence.
The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) have also expressed the same concerns, before calling on Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa to find common ground for dialogue.
ZCC general-secretary Kenneth Mtata told NewsDay yesterday that the clergy were ready to facilitate dialogue between Chamisa and Mnangagwa to prevent the country from sliding into chaos. This was after their meeting with the MDC leader at the party’s offices in the capital on Wednesday.
“The church sees protests as a constitutional right, which must be exercised peacefully. Our meeting (with Chamisa) was meant to emphasise this double-sided commitment to constitutionality and peace.
“We raised concerns regarding the potential violence in light of the previous protests,” Mtata said in an interview.
Mtata was accompanied by Eric Ruwona (ZCC advisory board vice-chairperson), Kennedy Gondongwe (ZCC board member), Sam Sifelani (ZCC ecumenical liaison officer) and Tinashe Gumbo (programmes officer).
“He (Chamisa) was very appreciative of the visit by the church. He confirmed his commitment to the comprehensive national dialogue process. He stated his interest to meet President Mnangagwa to build a shared vision for a united nation.
“There will be efforts to communicate the outcome of the meeting with President Mnangagwa,” Mtata added.
The ZCC also released a statement detailing the outcome of the meeting the church leaders had with Chamisa.
“The meeting agreed that the establishment of a multi-stakeholder consultative platform to ensure a broad-based ownership of the reform agenda could be one outcome of the national dialogue,” the statement read in part.
It adds: “The church leaders agreed to reach out to his Excellency President Mnangagwa to (i) convey the MDC leader’s request for a bilateral meeting as well as (ii) for the church leaders to engage his Excellency on a broad range of issues of national concern.”
Mnangagwa on Wednesday said he was also open for dialogue, but on unconditional terms. The MDC has set terms such as Mnangagwa’s legitimacy question as one of the terms for the dialogue. The MDC has also insisted that Mnangagwa must ‘sit’ with its Chamisa in a meeting convened by a neutral convener. Mnangagwa has been having political parties dialogue meetings with some fringe opposition parties that participated in the 2018 presidential elections. The MDC has snubbed the meetings.