A cross-section of Zimbabweans has rejected as ‘absurd’, a proposal by a church grouping to suspend national elections for seven years in order for the country to heal and rebuild its economy.
Heads of churches representing major denominations met in Harare, Tuesday and proposed that Zimbabwe adopt a ‘seven year Sabbath’ that would allow the country to rebuild trust, reset politics and chart a way towards full economic recovery.
The clergy argued that going on to another election in 2023 would not solve the Zimbabwean crisis rather the country needs time to heal itself.
However, this proposal was met with mixed reactions from a majority of people and opposition political parties.
Soon after this recommendation from churches, a number of online polls were set up where people trashed the idea, failing to fathom how the country could proceed for seven years without elections.
Others suggested perhaps that the churches were failing to come out in the open and say the current administration be suspended while an all-inclusive national dialogue be held.
Opposition political parties weighed in saying that abstaining from elections was not a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.
MDC- T (led by Thokozani Khupe) information secretary, Khaliphani Pugeni, said such a move would only serve to violate the constitution.
“I am personally not convinced with that simplistic argument because Zimbabwe’s problems are not caused by holding elections every quinquennial. Until l see or hear a more nuanced and well thought out plan l remain skeptical in the first place how do you entrench democracy by being undemocratic?” he asked.
ZAPU concurred, saying it was strange for the clergy to even suggest that the country goes to Sabbath on democracy.
“The churches don’t have a full appreciation of the situation in the country. It is not only about economics but governance. The challenges they highlight are symptoms of a disease that must be fixed through electing people to govern well because ours is a governance crisis,” said the party’s southern region communication director, Patrick Ndlovu.
He added that besides the clergy did not suggest an alternative of how Zimbabwe would be governed in those seven years.
“Who will govern because suspension will mean those in power must also be suspended. A country has to function, signatures are needed and legislation has to be passed. We can only wonder who will do such,” Ndlovu said.
MDC national spokesperson Daniel Molokele said the party respected the efforts made by clergy but the main opposition party had a better solution
“We encourage every other national stakeholders to also come up with their proposed way forward but our stance is already in public via Reload – the Roadmap to Economic Recovery, Openness Legitimacy and Democracy, which is a solid proposal to diffuse the current political and economic impasse arresting the country,” he quipped.
Molokele noted that under Reload, MDC articulated five steps on how to move forward.
“The 5 steps to our proposed way forward are Political, Diplomatic and legal Pressure, National Dialogue, National Transitional Mechanism, Comprehensive Reform Agenda and Free and Fair elections,” said the MDC spokesperson.