PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is making concrete efforts to open up Zimbabwe’s economy for investment and widen the democratic space, a respected South African cleric, has said.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Apostolic Faith Mission International president and former top bureaucrat in former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s administration, Reverend Frank Chikane, says he was encouraged by the political will Mnangagwa had shown since taking over from his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, last November.
“I am encouraged by the current spirit, where there is a huge effort of opening up the country, normalising things and huge effort in getting the economy working,” Chikane said.
“There is a huge and concerted effort to get investment into the country, and that is encouraging. It is a long way and that is the reality, but the political will is there.”
The South Arfrica cleric was instrumental in Mbeki’s much vilified policy of “quiet diplomacy” on Zimbabwe at the height of the country’s political crisis and helped put together the compromise arrangement that resulted in the consummation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) between Mugabe and his then political arch-nemesis, the late opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
He said the GNU and its aftermath had been hampered by the sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his inner circle by Western countries, arguing they have hurt Zimbabwe.
“We were able to find a solution at a critical moment in the history of this country. The country was able to walk over the bridge, and the political actors had to work together to build a future for the people of Zimbabwe, and I think they did their best to make it work,” Chikane said.
“The challenge I think was that the economy went the wrong direction. I think that’s the real crisis and the pressure that the country was put under, especially by the sanctions. They have hurt the country, and there is no question about it.”
Asked to comment on the military coup last November that brought Mugabe’s rule to an end and thrust Mnangagwa into the top job, Chikane said the concern among leading political figures in the region was the possibility of bloodshed.
“Our concern was about the possible loss of life and thank God that things worked out well, and there was a peaceful transition,” the respected cleric and anti-Apartheid activist, said.
Going forward, Chikane said political actors in Zimbabwe needed to work with a common purpose for the good of the country, with respect for democracy being paramount.
“Zimbabweans must work together and respect democratic processes. This country needs change, and a working economy, people are struggling. We wish Zimbabwe well,” Chikane said.
Chikane was in Zimbabwe last week once again to broker peace between warring factions in the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe chapter that has split the church over leadership issues.
He warned that the instability in the church could affect the country and urged the two protagonists Amon Madawo and Cossum Chiyangwa to find peace.
Madawo has been endorsed by the global church as the legitimately elected leader of the church.