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Sadc churches worried about sham polls

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CHURCHES in Southern Africa say they are concerned about the trend of sham polls in the region which are causing a lot of anxiety and leaving many citizens disempowered.

EDGAR GWESHE

Vice-chairperson of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FCCSA) Reverend Solomon Zwana told NewsDay that churches were scaling up their governance operations in the Southern African region to ensure free and fair elections.

He said contested outcomes often had a negative effect on people’s welfare.

Rev Zwana said as a result of contested outcomes, many citizens were no longer valuing the importance of voting.

“Churches need to play a prominent role in the region to ensure elections that are free and fair. So we are scaling up our operations at a regional level to ensure transparent elections,” he said.

“We are very worried because elections are leaving citizens disempowered instead of empowering them.

“So the citizens no longer value the importance of elections because the outcome raises a lot of questions. So we are worried that elections are no longer serving the purpose they are intended for.”

Zwana said the council held an election conference in June where discussions centred on how the Church could play a role in ensuring that the people’s will prevailed during elections.

The conference, he said, noted with concern developments in Mozambique and Swaziland.

The two countries are scheduled t to hold elections this year.

Zwana said they had tasked their members to engage their respective governments to ensure transparent elections in the two countries.

“Elections are causing a lot of anxiety and these are some of the issues that we are currently grappling with. We had an election conference in June where we brought Church leaders from all over the region to discuss issues of elections in countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland,” he said.

The FCCSA sent 19 high-level observers to observe Zimbabwe’s elections last year which the opposition MDC-T alleged were rigged by Zanu PF.

Zwana said governments in Southern Africa should give churches the opportunity to contribute towards issues such as elections and other development processes.
“Governments should give us the opportunity to contribute and should not look at us with suspicion.

“The challenge we are having today is the erosion of values. So the church should try to continue to foster these values to guard against corruption and promote responsible behaviour among leaders,” he said.

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