State security agents on Saturday allegedly attempted to block a joint political parties’ peace prayer meeting at Sakubva Stadium, Mutare, claiming the gathering had turned political.
The rally was attended by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and several Cabinet ministers from Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.
A member of the Zimbabwe Pastors’ Forum (Zimpaf), who organised the rally, told NewsDay they were summoned by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives at the stadium and accused of turning the event into a political rally.
The source, who declined to be identified, said the State security apparatus threatened to stop the rally, which was already midway, and disperse the gathering.
“CIO and ZRP members were angry with us saying we were running a different programme and that the whole programme had turned into a political one because we let politicians (MDC-T leader Tsvangirai and Zanu PF provincial secretary for administration Kenneth Saruchera) speak,” he said.
“The fortunate thing on our part is that when they ordered us to stop giving politicians a chance to speak, we had passed the stage of speeches.
“They then grudgingly allowed us to carry on with the programme though they categorically stated that only musicians should carry on with the singing.”
Later on, both MDC-T and Zimpaf blasted the security agents for their actions and threats.
“We are here for a peace prayer, not for political mileage,” said Zimpaf secretary-general Reverend Joseph Munemo.
“This programme is running countrywide with the sole objective of promoting peace ahead of the forthcoming general elections. We are not political or campaigning for any party and that is why we invited all parties here.”
MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, who was also in attendance, described the move by security agents as unprofessional and regrettable.
“It is misconceived that where there are politicians there is no God and genuine prayer,” said Chamisa who is also Information Communication Technology minister.
Our nation should seek God for salvation and restoration. There is nothing political about praying. If praying is now called politics, then that is good politics.This is an open forum where government officials were invited,” Chamisa said.
“ I am here in my capacity as minister, not as the national organising secretary for my party.
“You can’t successfully spy on people’s interaction with their Creator.”
Several musicians, including Agatha Murudzwa, Blessing Shumba and the Charamba couple, performed at the meeting.
Recently principals in the inclusive government agreed to hold joint peace rallies to curb incidents of violent campaigns ahead of the forthcoming general elections which Zanu PF insists should be held this year.
Last Thursday, representatives of the three main political parties in the coalition government held joint peace meetings in Mutare and Gweru in a bid to promote co-existence among their members.