by ALFONCE KUGWA
THE head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Harare, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu, has called on Zimbabwe’s main political leaders to urgently tame their egos, swallow their pride and dialogue to address daily bread and butter issues affecting the generality of the population.
Ndlovu, a member of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, said the church was not impressed by the recent anti-sanctions march led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF party, saying only dialogue could cause stability in the country.
The unwillingness by Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to dialogue has plunged the country into untold suffering,challenging the two leaders to put the interest of the people first, he said.
“If they are all for the people as they claim to be, they must show that through humility and willingness to engage in meaningful discussions for the benefit of the people and the country,” Ndlovu said in an interview with the Catholic Church News.
Mnangagwa and Chamisa, who lead the country’s biggest political parties, have been spurning calls for dialogue, with the former demanding recognition as leader of the country before any talks can take place.
Chamisa, on the other hand has demanded that talks should first be predicated on Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, accusing the Zanu PF leader of stealing last year’s elections.
Mnangagwa has initiated dialogue with other presidential candidates that took part in the poll, but the MDC leader snubbed the process which he said should be led by an independent mediator, a precondition flatly rejected by Mnangagwa.
But as the country continues to hit economic turbulences characterised by hyperinflation and shortages of commodities such as fuel, the call to have the two to the negotiating table has been amplifying.
Some Zanu PF chefs of late have publicly admitted talks with the youthful MDC leader were indispensable to pull the country out of the economic and political doldrums.
Archbishop Ndlovu admitted “things are not right in Zimbabwe” and challenged political leaders to pursue serious dialogue and find solutions to the social-economic and political problems bedevilling the country.
The archbishop said politicians should show, with their actions, that they represent the people who elected them by committing to sincere dialogue to put their suffering to an end.
Mnangagwa has repeatedly claimed the country’s economic challenges were a result of the Western-imposed sanctions, an allegation denied by both the United States of America that slapped the country with sanctions under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) and the European Union over human rights abuses by the late former President Robert Mugabe’s government.
On October 25, Mnangagwa led a countrywide anti-sanctions march, but US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols dismissed the march, saying corruption, not sanctions were hurting the country’s recovery plans.
The Catholic priest taunted Mnangagwa’s approach, saying dialogue and not marches will resolve the country’s international crisis. He challenged Mnangagwa to address the reasons why the sanctions were imposed on the country.
“Sanctions aside, we need to address our situation. Let us share the cake equally and not blame our malpractices on sanctions. Each political side has to play its role in addressing economic problems by acknowledging weaknesses in administering the country’s resources,” he said.
Archbishop Ndlovu said it was better to engage in dialogue than marches because they would not bring about tangible outcomes and urged government to “tackle corruption sincerely, stop murky business deals, recover stolen property and cash looted from the State and ensure proper use of national resources.”
“Issues of corruption not sanctions are daunting the country’s economy and you do not need to be an expert to address corruption. It is not healthy that few companies are ruining the economy while government folds its arms and watch.”
He said if sanctions were measures to compel Harare to reform some of its irregularities in politics and so-called new dispensation, “then the sooner we address them the better.”
“Zimbabwe does not need an ambassador to tell her to deal with corruption rather the government should use the powers vested in it to deal with the situation,” he said, referring to some controversial comments made by Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo against Nichols.
Sadc and the African Union, the clergyman said, could help in restoring the legacy of Zimbabwe, but local leaders have greater responsibility to attend to the country’s welfare.
The archbishop said he supported a call by Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) for a sabbatical from elections, saying such a move would build trust and confidence among Zimbabweans.
He said the political environment in the country was toxic, and had made political relations and the international re-engagement process hard and futile. — Additional reporting by Everson Mushava