CHURCHES have spoken strongly against the planned July 31 demonstrations by desperate opposition parties in the country saying such actions ignore the threat posed by Covid-19 and disregard existing conflict resolution platforms.
Zimbabwe is presently witnessing a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases with more than 20 deaths and more than 1000 positive cases, leading experts to call for a tightening of the current lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Already, the Government is mulling a raft of measures to help curb the spread of the flu-like disease that presently has no cure.
Addressing the media yesterday, the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Council of Churches (ZACC) patron Mr Jimayi Muduvuri said from past experiences, opposition parties often organised violent demonstrations that ended up with the destruction of private properties and also infringe on the rights of other citizens.
“We therefore condemn unreservedly this wanton propensity towards unbridled and thoughtless public demonstrations in the name of constitutional rights. As the leadership of ZACC, a coalition of churches that come from different backgrounds and theological positions, we are a living demonstration and example of peaceful co-existence and tolerance for differences”.
Although President Mnangagwa has set up a platform where political parties can ventilate their grievances, and has vowed to clamp down on corruption, the country’s opposition parties are planning a demonstration, ostensibly to register disquiet over corruption but really to subvert a constitutionally elected Government.
“We know that our responsibility as churches is to preach peace, love and unity as commanded by the Almighty God and we pledge ourselves to continue promoting the values of peace and unity and national development. We are concerned that there are people who still believe that public protests and demonstrations are a viable method to resolve perceived national problems,” he said.
Mr Muduviri said there was no evidence that encouraging people to go onto the streets would diminish the support for the President and the ruling party because all demonstrations thus far led by the opposition have only resulted in public disorder and with no one taking responsibility.
Destiny for Africa leader Reverend Obadiah Msindo said the planned demonstrations, that involve some prophets and pastors of doom, are not only ill-timed but also will not succeed.
“Everyone in Zimbabwe who has the interests of Zimbabwe should never support anything that could degenerate into violence. As was noted in previous demonstrations the opposition organises violent demonstrations. We witnessed destructive events from the so-called demonstrations. Anything that infringes on the rights of people should not be entertained. We must maintain peace so that we solve the problems that we face as a country. The church should refuse to be used by people with their own agendas, this has nothing to do with people’s interests. I have seen some pastors, the paid pastors, who are making money out of it, this is a money making project. All this effort of trying to remove the Government will not work of no use. Lastly why would a responsible opposition call for demonstrations when the country and the world is fighting Covid-19, this is unheard of,” said Rev Msindo.
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe president Archbishop Johannes Ndanga castigated some church leaders who are also planning the demonstrations saying at this point in time dialogue is the answer.
“What exactly do they want to solve. Churches should not engage in desperate moves which create tension in the country thereby destroying other people’s properties. We should move from old ways of doing things. We should focus on engaging, instead of plotting against the Government. We will not participate in any demonstration to fulfil the agenda of those who are power hungry.
“We have a different approach. We want to engage the Government, civic organisations and all political parties to ensure peace prevails in the country,” said Bishop Ndanga.
Meanwhile, Transform Zimbabwe president and organiser of the July 31 national protest against corruption, Jacob Ngarivhume has urged the country’s military to stand with the masses as opposed to politicians who have plundered national resources.
His call comes amid growing fears that State security forces will derail the protest through arrests and beatings of the peaceful marchers.
However, Ngarivhume who is on a national tour mobilising Zimbabweans to protest against rising State corruption, pleaded in an interview on NewZimbabwe’s flagship television programme, The Agenda, Monday, for the military to stand on the side of the people 31 July and not protect the looters.
“The people of Zimbabwe are not necessarily speaking out against the military of this country. The military institutions of this country represent Zimbabweans,” Ngarivhume said.
“So we don’t want a notion to associate the military authority of this country with Zanu PF. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces are for everybody. That is our understanding. The idea is that the people of Zimbabwe will not be demonstrating against the military on this day.
“There has not been a provocation of the military. The people of Zimbabwe have raised issues they are speaking out against. It will be up to the military of Zimbabwe to be on the side of the people.”