THE Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) has blasted Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda’s partisan conduct allowing unconstitutional recalls of elected opposition legislators saying the move scuttles democratic tenets.
Last week, Sengezo Tshabangu, who purports to be CCC interim secretary general (SG), wrote to the Speaker of Parliament and successfully recalled 15 MPs elected in August alleging they had ceased to be members of the party.
The self-styled SG also wrote to the Local Government Minister Winston Chitando, purportedly recalling 17 CCC councillors for a similar reason.
In a letter to Parliament, Chamisa denied Tshabangu was a CCC official and, therefore, was not qualified to act in the manner he did, but Mudenda has scoffed at Chamisa saying he must seek redress at the courts.
In a pastoral letter issued Wednesday, the EFZ board, led by Bishop Never Mparutsa, said the environment after disputed 2023 harmonised elections was becoming more toxic.
“In the aftermath of the elections, we prayerfully register EFZ’s concern, regret and disappointment at the potential threats to democracy, justice delivery, social order and national peace that the entertainment and legitimisation by the Speaker of Parliament and the Senate President of various questionable recalls, are likely to foster.
“This has the potential to undermine the trust of Zimbabweans towards the ruling party (Zanu PF), government and the entire political establishment,” said EFZ.
The church appealed to all politicians surreptitiously or blatantly involved in this brutal post-election political contest to respect, and not violate, the country’s Constitution and to prioritise the national interest over partisan political interests.
“The elections of the 23rd and 24th of August 2023 have come and gone and yet again have left behind controversy, dispute and division. Despite this, the EFZ commends the church and the nation of Zimbabwe, for the generally peaceful and quiet manner in which the elections were conducted, notwithstanding the concerns that we will address hereafter.
“Among these was the isolated but saddening and needless loss of lives due to election-related violence reported ahead of the polls, the arrests and prosecution of ordinary Zimbabweans on election day, and the arrest and prosecution of duly elected and sworn-in opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and councillors after the elections.
“As believers, we firmly believe that the peace and restraint witnessed in the election period is attributable to the Lord Jesus Christ and the influence and presence of followers of Jesus Christ in Zimbabwe.
“In the aftermath of the elections and the divisions that often accompany political contestation in Zimbabwe, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ must rise to its high calling and promote justice, reconciliation, peace and unity in order to build the Zimbabwe God wants.”
The church, EFZ reiterated, is found in every village, community and province of Zimbabwe and must use its presence to be the salt and light that stems the tide of deterioration and darkness in the nation of Zimbabwe.
“As the church, we followed the electoral processes and activities before, during and after elections. It is common knowledge that there were a number of shortcomings that were noted throughout the electoral process.
“Although the list is not exhaustive, below are some of the concerns we have registered. These include, the challenges that were raised in relation to the delimitation exercise, the lack of voter education in the period leading up to the elections, the uneven playing field for political parties to campaign freely, including the bias of mainstream media coverage, or lack thereof, of the various campaigns.”
Other challenges were the administrative challenges that attended the Nomination Court’s processes, the seeming lack of appetite or will by the legislature to fully reform the Electoral Act, the stark administrative shortcomings of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), especially on polling day, which led to unprecedented delays in the delivery of ballot papers in three provinces of the country.
EFZ also noted the unabated hate speech among political contenders and their supporters and the disputation of some election results.
The clergy said it recommits to the principles enunciated in the “The Zimbabwe We Want” process to national engagement and dialogue for transformation, in partnership with other stakeholders.
EFZ says it is taking urgent and immediate steps to catalyse, facilitate and partner in engagement and dialogue to bring transformation to the immediate challenges arising from the contestations regarding the election, among them a more polarised society and deeply divided nation.
Efforts are also underway to develop long-term strategies of continual engagement and dialogue regarding systemic values and institutional transformation so that the clergy goes beyond reacting to national trauma, and becomes instrumental in nation building and transformation.
“As part of this, the need to restore and uphold the integrity, independence and public confidence of ZEC, the courts and other national institutions, is imperative.
“We therefore urge you, our members to continue to stand in prayer for our nation during this time, as you have always done; and call the nation to prayerful engagement in the pursuit of justice, fairness, peace, reconciliation, unity and shared prosperity, in order to build the Zimbabwe God wants.”
Established in 1962, EFZ has over the years grown its membership to over 900 member bodies comprising denominations, church bodies, ministries and para-church organisations. NewZimbabwe