By Everson Mushava
Zanu PF and the opposition MDC have shot down proposals by churches that the country should suspend elections for seven years to pave way for political and economic reforms under a new structure of government to usher free and credible elections.
The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) made the proposal on Tuesday, arguing that a seven-year sabbatical from elections would address the current political paralysis and deepening mistrust and polarisation.
The churches claimed the period of reform would stabilise the fast deteriorating economy under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which has seen the country’s inflation figures rising at an unprecedented pace since the record-breaking 2008 hyperinflation.
But Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said the country was coming from elections that produced winners and there was no need to suspend the Constitution.
He said economic hardships were not caused by elections and the proposals by the churches were misplaced.
“That is their proposal, that is their view. We go by the dictates of the Constitution,” Mpofu said.
“We have a Constitution that guides the conduct of elections and the mandate thereof. We have been reading about the view from the churches and it is their entitlement to have their own views. As Zanu PF, we feel there is need to constantly respect the Constitution.
“We have come out of an election that produced their leadership. What is motivating the view, I don’t know.”
Pressure has been mounting on both Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to engage in dialogue to solve the country’s plunging economy.
Mnangagwa this year entered into dialogue with presidential representatives of fringe political parties in last year’s elections.
Chamisa snubbed the talks, demanding a neutral mediator, instead of Mnangagwa, who he accused of lacking legitimacy after allegedly stealing last year’s polls.
The opposition leader has constantly claimed that the country was experiencing a legitimacy problem.
Chamisa’s deputy, Tendai Biti, also dismissed the proposal by the church, saying any solution on the country’s crisis was predicated on genuine talks between Zanu PF and the MDC, the main political actors, followed by social dialogue.
“The churches are putting the cart before the horse,” Biti said.
“The country is in serious structural crisis, we don’t want to put make up on the crisis. There has to be genuine dialogue in the country, supported by the international community. This dialogue is not about sharing positions or suspending the Constitution, but structural reforms, that is what is key.
“The problem is much deeper than elections, the country is in crisis. Any solution should be a product of dialogue. There are two major players in the country’s polity, Zanu PF and the MDC and the dialogue between these two actors is key, followed by social dialogue. The church should only facilitate their dialogue. And the solution should come from the process of dialogue.”