Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Secretary-General Douglas Mwonzora has called on the government to engage in a dialogue with the church as they are also an important institution in resolving the country’s crisis.
Last week the Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu-led Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZBCC) condemned the government’s crackdown on civil liberties, failure to resolve the issue of Gukurahundi massacres, state brutality on citizens and other related factors.
The pastoral letter irked the government with the Minister of Information Monic Mutsvangwa calling Archbishop Ndlovu “evil-minded”, “misguided” and seeking to ferment tribalism in the country.
In an interview with CITE on the Breakfast Club, Thursday, Mwonzora said the response from the government revealed the toxic nature of the country’s politics.
“Yes I had a chance to read the pastoral letter and also read the response from the government and my immediate reaction was that the reaction of the government and the public spat that it created shows the toxic nature of our politics,” he said.
Mwonzora said instead of vilifying the clerics, the government must engage the church as it is also an agent in fostering democracy.
“I think the pastors raised a number of issues, they raised the issue of compensation of white farmers and the failures to do anything about the compensation of workers who were working on those farmers and lost their livelihood as a result of those land reforms
“They talked of violence, human rights abuses, they talked of a number of issues, I think instead of reacting the way it did, the government must engage the church, we believe that the church must take its responsibility in being an agent in fostering democracy in the country,” he said.
The senator added that the church played a key role during the liberation struggle and post-independence.
“The church was involved in the liberation struggle, we all know about the work of the catholic church, the work of church-related institutions in helping the nationalist struggle, the church was also instrumental in exposing the excesses during Gukurahundi in Matabeleland and Lower Gweru.
“The church was further involved in dealing with the issue leading to the signing of the Unity Accord, the church was involved in constitutionalism trying to bring a constitutional dispensation in this country, so it is an important institution and it has to be respected,” he said.
On human rights violations, Mwonzora said there is a need to utilise modern technology to document human rights violations.
“Let me just say when we dealing with issues of human rights and so on, what we now need in this country is empirical evidence to be put in, these are days of technology now, so we encourage our people whenever they have had evidence they experienced abuse, abrogation of human rights should document that, give proof of that so that we do not have a situation where people argue on whether the phenomenon exists or not,” he said.
Mwonzora said there was need for inclusive dialogue in dealing with the country`s challenges.
“But in my respectful view the situation is not beyond redemption, we can still deal with the situation through dialogue and this dialogue must be inclusive, genuine and unconditional,” said Mwonzora.
“It must be dialogue involving the political actors, the church, civil society, business, everybody has a role to play in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis.”