By Fidelis Munyoro and Victor Maphosa
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday reiterated that his door was open for dialogue to move the country forward and benefit Zimbabweans, in line with his approach for a broad-based and inclusive national interface that he first enunciated in November 2017.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) said this in a speech read on his behalf by zanu-pf chairwoman Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister, during a national leadership breakfast prayer meeting in Harare yesterday.
The meeting, convened by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), brought together national political leaders, diplomats and other stakeholders.
MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa, who was absent when 21 of the 23 leaders of political parties that contested last year’s elections met at State House in Harare on Wednesday, was present this time around.
President Mnangagwa reiterated his call for national dialogue.
“My doors will remain open for dialogue and updates as we pursue programmes that will bring about prosperity, development and a better quality of life to our people,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President said the meeting organised by churches provided a platform for stakeholders to brief each other on pertinent national developmental issues.
“Constant interactions and prayer of this nature are positive and will help fostering continued dialogue between Government, the church and all stakeholders,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Such platforms under these anointings also help uniting us as one people towards a common vision and shared national destiny.”
He said congregants of the church were the same players and participants in politics.
“There is, therefore, convergence between government advocating for peace, love, unity, patriotism and the message of the church as encapsulated in the word of God,” he said.
“Let us therefore continue to work together towards uniting Zimbabwe for peace, love and harmony and prosperity to prevail in our nation.”
President Mnangagwa said the role of Christianity was to shape the minds of the people and redirect their efforts based in the incorruptible word of God, which is pure and undefiled.
He said his Government recognises and applauds contributions of the church in education, medical care humanitarian services and community development.
The President implored the church never to give up and continue teaching their congregants to live Christ-like lives characterised by hard honest work and shunning all forms of corruption.
“These are the qualities, the values and principles that should be embedded in all our people as we build the Second Republic,” he said.
“We all belong to this country, united by our national flag and anthem with a shared vision to become a middle income economy by 2030.
“I thus appeal to the church to motivate their congregants for the accomplishments of this vision and improve the quality of life of our people,” said President Mnangagwa.
He urged communities to take up the numerous businesses and economic empowerment projects available across all sectors of the economy.
“Let us desist from a ‘them and us mentality’. Over and above advancing the national development agenda. I appeal to the church to continuously pray for our nation without ceasing,” added President Mnangagwa.
“The healing of our land rest with prayers and supplications with the church,” said President Mnangagwa.
He quoted 2 Chronicles 2 verse 14 that says: “If my people who are called by my name, who humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Mr Chamisa said his party was committed to dialogue, but appeared to narrow the scope of the exercise to talks between him and President Mnangagwa, against the spirit of inclusiveness.
He said there can be no dialogue without President Mnangagwa and himself.
“We are ready anytime to dialogue but under a credible, independent and genuine convener,” he said.
“I inherited peace from the icon of peace Morgan Tsvangirai and (President) Mnagagwa inherited from his own icon Mr Mugabe. We are new kids on the bloc. We need new politics.”
Both President Mnangagwa and Mr Chamisa made their commitments to national dialogue after Zion Christian Church leader Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi implored the duo to close ranks and emulate former President Mr Robert Mugabe, the later Vice President Joshua Nkomo, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, who sat down to dialogue during trying times.
“We must follow the examples of our predecessors,” said Bishop Mutendi.
“During the difficult period in our country Dr Joshua Nkomo sought peace and our former President Robert Mugabe sat down with Nkomo and they talked peace.
“Tsvangirai made peace with Mugabe and he did not consider it humiliation but he did it for peace. When Mugabe made peace President Mnangagwa was his right hand man, when Tsvangirai made peace Chamisa was his right hand man so why can’t it happen now?”
“Zimbabwe has been waiting for this day, in peace and humility. Let us stop hate speeches and God will heal our land. This can be done through this national peace dialogue process.”
The revered Bishop appealed to the Zimbabweans to lead the peace talks themselves without seeking an external hand.
“Let us build peace by ourselves because one day our neighbours could become our enemies and they will know our weaknesses because we would have allowed them to lead us to unite.”
Zanu-PF and MDC-Alliance top officials were among the stakeholders drawn from various churches and organisations who attended the event.
The Zanu-PF team was led by Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri while Mr Chamisa headed the opposition line-up to the prayer meeting.
Also present were the Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum, women organisations, business persons, civil society organisations and, young people, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the traditional leaders.