THE Government and churches have united in calling for political parties to uphold and promote peace ahead of next year’s harmonised elections.
The call was made at the sixth edition of the National Thanksgiving and Dedication Service held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo yesterday where Acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga was the guest of honour.
The annual thanksgiving church service was organised by Faith for the Nation Campaign, an inter-denominational grouping of local churches under the leadership of Apostle Andrew Wutawunashe.
The 2023 harmonised elections were a major prayer point at the event that also saw the nation praying for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
Acting President Chiwenga said the Government does not expect any acts of violence as the country enters election season.
He said the delimitation report, which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) submitted to President Mnangagwa, was a first step in preparing for the polls.
ZEC is constitutionally required to conduct a delimitation exercise every 10 years to reposition the country’s constituencies and wards.
“You may be aware that the nation has begun the first steps towards preparation for the harmonised elections which are due sometime in 2023. The preliminary Delimitation Report, which was submitted to His Excellency the President, Cde, Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa sets in motion processes that lead to these elections. I urge the church to pray for peace and calm in our nation as we head for elections,” said the Acting President.
Dr Chiwenga said violence has no place in the country’s political contestations.
He implored political parties to accept the outcome of the elections.
“Equally, we must show the world that we are a peaceful and indeed a converged nation emerging from the unity of winners and losers joining hands in national development. That is the Zimbabwe we want,” he said.
Dr Chiwenga said the Government was heartened by Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi and Reverend Wutawunashe who lobbied for the removal of sanctions imposed on the country by Western countries.
He said sanctions serve no purpose except to hurt ordinary Zimbabweans.
The Acting President expressed gratitude to the African continent for standing with Zimbabwe in calling for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on the country.
“Internationally, although faced by unjust and illegal sanctions, we embarked on the hard and patient work of re-engaging even hostile regimes which had punished us for repossessing our own land through extensive illegal sanctions meant to cripple us.
“As we work hard on the frontier of international engagement and re-engagement, we are seeing a thawing of relations with normally antagonistic nations,” he said.
“We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We remain eternally grateful for the resolute support from our sister African countries, through SADC and the African Union.”
Speaking at the same prayer event, Roman Catholic Church leader, Father Fidelis Mukonori, said police should arrest anyone who violates the law in the name of politics.
“We would like to pray for forthcoming general elections to be done peacefully. It is essential, it is a right. Zimbabwe has never stopped doing its elections every time when it was necessary. We would want to pray that we have a peaceful general election,” said Fr Mukonori.
“Acting President, I would like to urge that anyone who goes against the law, that person should be punished accordingly regardless and without fear and favour.”
He implored Zimbabweans who invited illegal sanctions to be imposed on the country to call for their removal.
“Before the Americans, there are Zimbabweans who decided to go and seek sanctions. First of all, they knocked at the British door and the British door said the United Kingdom did not have such facilities but these persons were advised to go to the United States of America and seek for these sanctions to be applied,” he said.
“They were told once sanctions were applied by the United States of America, the United Kingdom will make sure they were applied across the board in the European Union. These are facts I have. So, we would like to ask both the American people, I would also want to ask also the Europeans, we would also want to ask some among us who go daily to the United States of America to seek the continuous imposition of sanctions to say God can you touch the hearts of these Zimbabweans.”
Apostle Wutawunashe said it was important to be thankful as there are a lot of positives that the country has recorded during the course of the year.
He said while the country’s detractors only see negative things, there was much development happening in the country.
Apostle Wutawunashe said foreigners get shocked when they visit the country and observe the developments on the ground as they are in contrast to the story that they are sold out there.
“We have some delegates who have come from around the world to attend the Pan African Churches Convention and many of them are surprised.
“They say the Zimbabwe we see and the Zimbabwe we read about outside this country are two different things.
“They are surprised by the progress that is in this nation. And those are eyes which are innocent and are not influenced by any kind of political bias or anything,” said Apostle Wutawunashe.