Remove your robes and join politics: ED tells bishops

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday hit back at criticism against his administration saying Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe have crossed the line by spreading falsehoods about the situation in Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa was addressing members of the Politburo when he raised objection to a pastoral letter recently read out at Catholic churches, in which the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference accused the government of carrying out human rights abuses and cracking down on dissent.

The Catholic bishops said Zimbabwe was fractured, suffering from “a multi-layered crisis”, including economic collapse, deepening poverty while “fear runs down the spine of many of our people today. The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented.

Mnangagwa charged that the Catholic bishops were well within their rights to join politics openly rather than seek to do so nicodemously.

“They must come out and form political parties. As Zanu PF, we are ready for the 2023 elections. We are a people’s party that believes in unity, love, peace and in championing development. We fought for the empowerment of our people,” he said.

“…Following their crashing failure, our detractors are evidently in disarray and desperate, and grasping at straws to destroy confidence in our democratically elected Government.They are equally on an overdrive to discredit our people-centred programmes,” he added.

Mnangagwa said in the post-independence period, said the ruling party and government have worked well with the Church to advance the national development agenda, as a united people.

“However, it is most unfortunate when men of the cloth begin to use the pulpit to advance a nefarious agenda for detractors of our country,” Mnangagwa.

His response was in tandem with an earlier statement by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa who described the pastoral letter as an “evil message” meant to stoke a “Rwanda-type genocide”.

Mnangagwa insisted that government was on the right path to meet the promises set out in the 2018 elections.

“We are delivering on the promises we made to the people. We set out under the Second Republic to establish and sustain a just and equitable society firmly based on our historical, cultural, social and economic experiences as well as our aspirations for better quality of life for all our people,” he said.

“As highlighted in our manifesto, our agriculture programme such as the broadening of the access to land by more Zimbabweans through the rationalisation of farm sizes and the elimination of multiple farm ownership, is on course,” he added.

ZANU PF acting Secretary for Information and Publicity, Patrick Chinamasa told journalists at a press conference after the meeting that the “Politburo endorsed the President’s response to a few bishops whose letter has been discredited as (it was) disrespectful, malicious and pandering to the narrative of the splitting MDCs.”

He added: “The Politburo laughed them off and advised them that if they are tired of reading bibles and preaching Godly principles of peace, love and unity, then they are well within their rights to join politics openly rather than seek to do so nicodemously, hiding behind the cross of Christ. We know that Catholic members felt misrepresented by this selfish elite cleric band.”