The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has warned the government that banning demonstrations will make leaders unaccountable and force citizens to use unlawful ways to express their grievances.
ZCC general secretary Kenneth Mtata said that such bans will inevitably lead to the so-called “Third Force” taking advantage and fomenting chaos causing security agencies to lose focus.
The respected clergyman also lamented the church’s unenviable position in Zimbabwe, that the institution is in No Man’s land. Said Mtata:
Risks of stopping official demonstrations, you have no leadership accountability. Unaccountability deteriorates into lawlessness, criminal elements and so-called ‘Third force’ take advantage. Chaos scares international investors. With time law enforcement agencies lose focus.
… Dilemmas of churches’ public engagement raise justice issues you are labelled opposition sympathiser. Call for dialogue you are labelled ruling party sympathiser. Engage political actors, you are labelled too political. Avoid public engagement, become an irrelevant church.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently told Zimbabwean churches that the absence of dialogue with opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa was because of the latter’s intransigence.
President Mnangagwa wrote to the churches, telling them that he will not give preferential treatment to Chamisa and that the opposition leader has to come and join others within the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) framework. He wrote:
At commemorations of Heroes and Defence Forces days, I again made a passionate call for national dialogue and national unity for the sake of peace and progress of our nation.
The MDC leader is still to requite my goodwill, so repeatedly and unconditionally expressed and extended.
Much worse, he is still to respect the legitimate will of the Zimbabwean people, as expressed in the results of the 2018 harmonised elections, which the MDC unsuccessfully contested through the Constitutional Court.
Repeatedly, the rhetoric from the MDC is one of threatening to overturn the constitutional order ushered in by these internationally observed harmonised elections.