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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa begged for votes from the Anglican Church members at the weekend, while officiating at the annual Bernard Mizeki pilgrimage in Marondera.
Zimbabwe is preparing for general elections on August 23, with the nomination courts sitting on Wednesday this week.
Mnangagwa, who was accompanied by his deputy Constantino Chiwenga, Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri and several government officials attended the Anglican Church of Province of Central Africa 56th Pilgrimage, celebrating the life of Mizeki.
Mizeki was an African Christian missionary who died in 1896.
More than 20 000 congregants made the pilgrimage from across the globe.
Mnangagwa applauded Anglican Council of Zimbabwe (ACZ) chairperson and Anglican Diocese of Manicaland Bishop Eric Ruwona for “good organisational abilities.”
However, Mnangagwa took the opportunity to woo voters saying he could not miss the chance to address such a gathering.
“When I received a letter of invite celebrating the life and ministry of the late Bernard Mizeki, l did not believe that I have been invited,” he said.
“I had to cancel everything today to come and be with you. I did not want to miss the opportunity. When l was flying l was happy to see such a crowd. You are many. I want to thank your church leadership for organising such a crowd,” he said.
Mnangagwa added: “I did not know that my national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri is an Anglican, so I will not remove her from the position until (after) elections because you will not vote for me.”
Muchinguri, who was clad in Anglican Church uniform, was part of the congregation at the celebrations.
Mnangagwa said the shrine in Marondera would be declared a national heritage.
He urged church leaders in the country to pray for peaceful elections.
“I appeal to the Anglican Church leaders and other church leaders to pray for elections before and during,” he added.
Chiwenga also applauded the leadership of the church.
“I want to thank the leadership of the church for inviting us. This shows a strong relationship between the church and the government, we need unity in the country, elections come and go and elections are only for one day, so let’s have peaceful elections,” Chiwenga said.
In his welcoming remarks, Ruwona said it was the duty of the church to pray for the country.
“It is our duty as the church to pray for the country and we have done so since the days of the liberation struggle. I want to thank our President for mediating in our church divisions, which he addressed well bringing back unity in the church,” he said.
Mnangagwa flew to Marondera from the capital.
The ACZ consists of five dioceses in Zimbabwe. — _*NewsDay*_