, 11 July, 2020 / 10:44 PM
Church leaders from various Christian denominations under the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) have planned “a closed-door meeting” with “leaders of political parties” at the beginning of next week to deliberate on challenges bedeviling the Southern African nation, key among them, the economic collapse and the political stalemate.
According to a local media report, the meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday, July 13 and plans for the convention are “at an advanced stage.”
Political parties invited to the meeting submitted their conditions for participation, the Secretary General of ZCC, Kenneth Mtata, has been quoted as saying, expressing optimism about the gathering.
“We are really grateful for the positive response we are receiving from political parties through the bilateral preparatory meetings,” Zimbabwe’s Bulawayo News24 quoted ZCC Secretary General as saying Friday, July 10.
According to Mtata’s explanation to local media, those at the helm of the various Christian denominations in Zimbabwe “wanted to bring together all political parties, including protagonists President Emerson Mnangagwa (Zanu-PF) and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to dialogue as part of efforts to end the political and economic crisis in the country.”
The leaders of the political parties “have been clear about the significance of this meeting, ground rules for engagement and their overall expectations. We continue with preparations with confidence,” Mtata was quoted saying July 10.
“Some Principals have already confirmed participation. This will be a closed-door meeting although a public communiqué will be shared with the media,” the ZCC official told a local media July 7.
It also been reported that although the leaders of Zanu-PF and MDC Alliance have both confirmed receiving their respective invitation letters to the meeting, they have kept “their cards close to the chest on whether they will participate or not.”
“We do not want to jeopardize the process by revealing more details about the reactions of the invited parties,” local media quoted ZCC Secretary General as saying.
ZCC is an interdenominational body that brings together 22 Churches. The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) is an associate member of the organization.
The planned July13 meeting is part of the resolutions of the Zimbabwe’s National Convergence Platform (NCP) summit that was held virtually on May 25.
Bringing together more than 50 participants including Clergy, representatives of unions and various associations in the country, NCP, which is an initiative of ZCC, resolved to organize dialogical meetings that would see key representatives of political parties, civil society organizations and Zimbabweans drawn from different sectors sit together and address their country’s political and socio-economic crises.
This is happening against the backdrop of a call for protests to depose President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The protests, planned for July 31, have been called by the leader of Transform Zimbabwe, Jacob Ngarivhume.
The country has witnessed hyperinflation that was, in May, measured at nearly 800 percent per year. According to a media report, unemployment has also reached record levels, estimated at 90 percent and many Zimbabweans cannot afford to feed themselves.
Church leaders in the landlocked country have been pushing for dialogue since the disputed July 2018 presidential elections in an effort to end the political stalemate and revive the economy.
Following the announcement of President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the head of state, the country erupted in violence that led to the death of at least six people. Political tensions in the country triggered hikes in fuel prices leading to nationwide protests in January 2019.
Last October, Christian leaders under the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) called for a seven-year suspension of politics “to allow for the rebuilding of trust and confidence, reset our politics and chart a shared way forward.”
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