After allowing the Chinese government to take over Zimbabwe’s sovereignty, Emmerson Mnangagwa has told the church to avoid being used as foreign puppets
State Media: The Church should continue to pursue its role of fostering peace and unity, especially as 2023 harmonised elections draw closer, President Mnangagwa has said.
He said the Church should, however, be wary of being used as conduits to promote negative foreign interests detrimental to the country’s stability and sovereignty.
Writing in his weekly column in this paper, the President said religious organisations remained key partners of the State in promoting development and providing wise counsel.
He gave assurances that the proposed Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill, which is in line with international best practices, would not curtail humanitarian work by Churches and genuine non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
It would, however, “flush out dirty money” being laundered through some NGOs and make Zimbabwe “compliant with international protocols”. It is believed the Church now understands why authorities are working on the envisaged legislation after several engagements with the Government.
“What the Bill seeks to do is to stop mischief which has often sought to take advantage of the poor and situations of need in the country,” said the President.
“Additionally, it seeks to flush out dirty money, which is often laundered through some PVOs …
“Above all, it seeks to stop the subversion of national processes by foreign actors who often front political NGOs.
“Electoral processes are solely for citizens; they should never come under the undue influence of outsiders who hold no legitimate stake in our country.
“To allow that to happen undermines our sovereignty and the integrity of those processes.”
Zimbabwe’s resource endowments, said the President, make the country an “attractive” target of foreign nefarious foreign influence.
Negative foreign interests, he added, usually seek to exploit societal institutions such as Churches to exert undue influence on the country.
“We must all be wary of this, including Churches. We already have reports of foreign embassies which seek to abuse their purpose and status here by mobilising religious organisations for political ends.
“That must be resisted, lest we are back to the Victorian ethos of Western expansionism under different guises.”
Ahead of next year’s harmonised elections, added President Mnangagwa, the Church must continue to engender peace and non-violent political contestations.
He said the Second Republic recognises the prophetic role which the Church has always played in society, and in history.
Describing the church as “the conscience of society”, he said: “it must be listened to, while its wise counsel must be heeded.
“It propagates peace, amity and unity at all levels.
“At no time will such a role become more crucial than now as we drift towards our Harmonised General Elections, which fall due sometime next year.
“The Church should preach peace and calmness in our communities and our nation so our elections take place in an environment of non-violence and tolerance.”
In addition, Churches should safeguard the sanctity of delicate national processes such as the ongoing healing process being undertaken to address issues arising from post-Independence disturbances that affected parts of Matabeleland and Midlands, said the President.
Religious organisations were urged to support initiatives that help foster peace, healing and unity.
“It has always been the Church’s view that durable peace comes from justice.
“The State, too, shares that view.
“This is why we have several Constitutional Commissions working towards that end,” he said.
“Any peace which avoids justice or which seeks to abort or to sidestep basic rights can never endure.
“It is with this persuasion that I have personally made it my singular mission to settle deep hurts from past conflicts, principally those to do with disturbances which occurred in the early part of our Independence.
“The Church must help Government protect that delicate process which can easily be wrecked by those seeking to profit from frozen animosities.
“Above all, it must help us avoid the recurrence of such conflicts in future.”