THE leader of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), bishop Nehemia Mutendi yesterday pulled a shocker by calling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to promote peace and play a “clean game” in the general elections expected next year.
Mnangagwa attended a ZCC service at Defe Dopota in Gokwe, where thousands of congregants gathered to commemorate the death of the church’s founder Samuel Mutendi. Mutendi died on July 20, 1976.
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, top government officials, Zanu PF officials and 16 chiefs were also in attendance.
In his sermon, Mutendi urged congregants and government officials to maintain peace in the country.
This comes as political tensions are heightening ahead of the 2023 polls, with rights defenders having already red-flagged the rising cases of political violence.
Political violence ahead of the 2023 polls has already claimed the lives of some opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters.
There are also cases of intra-party violence which have resulted in injuries.
“Christ’s peace means remaining calm in spite of all troubles,” Mutendi said.
“I have summoned government officials and their leaders on this day as we are commemorating the day of the man of peace (Samuel). We are here to pray for the coming general elections. We have the upcoming general elections. There are many people who are going to participate in that race. We, as the ZCC, are also in a race to a heavenly State House. In that election race, we pray that you play your game, as a clean game or race.
“We have summoned you to join us to pray for the 2023 elections to be peaceful. Despite the economic challenges the country is facing, we still see that a lot is being done to improve people’s lives. We are happy and we see the road rehabilitation programmes that government is undertaking, and the dams being built.”
Mutendi said citizens “had lost hope” owing to the deteriorating economic situation, while emphasising the need for government to maintain peace in the country.
He said land should not be preserved by swords and guns, as he denounced violence.
“We have our father who fought for Zimbabwe, but did not have a chance to see a free Zimbabwe. A majority of the ZCC congregants depend on the land. They are excited to hear about people who can help us on how to use the land,” Mutendi said.
“ZCC members know that land is a gift from God. It must be preserved, not only with swords and guns. Some are holding guns, but we are holding the Bible. We have some who have lost hope. The church is the only source of hope … We appreciate the State House’s open door policy. We appreciate your willingness to invite churches and bring people together and your willingness to set aside State duties to come and listen to the word of God.”
Mnangagwa is currently in a massive re-election campaign drive in which he is targeting churches to gain political edge over his arch-rival, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa and other presidential candidates in the forthcoming 2023 plebiscite.
Last month, the Zanu PF leader attended a church service at the Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect Passover service held in Mafararikwa at St Noah’s shrine, where he urged thousands of congregants in attendance to support him.
In June, Mnangagwa joined worshippers of the African Apostolic Church led by Paul Mwazha in Chirumanzu, Midlands province, where he also solicited support.
In his speech Mnangagwa said citizens were not fully utilising the resources at their disposal to be productive. His speech dwelt mostly on Biblical verses.
Mnangagwa said: “Baba Samere was a preacher of love, unity. His good work has made us gather here. We would not have been gathered here if he had gone about doing bad things. He preached love and unity, and for the nation to have peace and harmony … Very few of you are working on productivity,” he said.
“The scriptures in Genesis urge us to sweat. Every kingdom must be productive to live. Through the works of the church, our nation must prosper; our people must be protected, be saved and healed.”
His deputy, Chiwenga, however, told the Mutendi congregants to vote for Zanu PF.