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Zimbabwe Crisis: Form Your Own Political Party, Mnangagwa Tells Catholic Bishops

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By Daniel Jones, Harare

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has accused Catholic Bishops of meddling into politics while his under fire government has summoned the Catholic Church’s Holy See Diplomatic representative to Zimbabwe, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Paolo Rudelli to explain the “insults” by its bishops.

This follows a Pastoral Letter by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) last week condemning human rights abuses and deepening crisis in the country.

The Pastoral Letter which came as President Mnangagwa’s government has maintained that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, attracted stern attack to the bishops by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa who labeled the bishops as evil minded.

Addressing Zanu-PF’s weekly Politburo meeting on Wednesday, stood by his Information Minister’s attack on the church, as he accused the bishops of siding with the country’s detractors.

“Zanu-PF has a close relationship with the church dating back to the liberation struggle. It is most unfortunate when men of the cloth begin to use the pulpit to advance a nefarious agenda for detractors of our country.  Those who want to enter political realm are welcome to do so. They must come out and form political parties. As Zanu-PF we are ready for 2023,” said Mnangagwa.

He instead spoke of his party being ready for the next elections in 2023 instead of addressing issues raised by suffering citizens

In a statement after the same meeting, his Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said government would want to meet the Vatican representative in Zimbabwe.

“In this regard the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo will be meeting the Apostolic Nuncio, the Diplomatic representative of the Holy See accredited to Zimbabwe,” he said.

He did not give the date for the meeting.

Government wants the church to explain the contents of the Pastoral letter which it feels directly insulted Mnangagwa and his government, and to know if the message was in agreement with the Vatican.

The Apostolic Nuncio visited Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu on Sunday to express his solidarity in the wake of the drama around the Pastoral Letter.

Archbishop Ndlovu was singled out in a scorching personal attack by Mutsvangwa following the Pastoral Letter.

Zimbabweans citizens including church, civic groups and human rights organisations have stood in solidarity with ZCBC.

The Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has also stood in “unconditional solidarity” with their Zimbabwean colleagues.

“We the SACBC continue to note with increasing concern the unabated situation of repression in Zimbabwe resulting in increasing hardships and suffering of citizens.

“We condemn personal attack on the Archbishop of Harare Archbishop Robert Ndlovu by Minister Monica Mutsvangwa,” SACBC president Anthon Sithembele Sipuka, who is Umtata bishop said.


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