Sydney Kawadza Assistant News Editor
Peace prayers organised by a group of pastors have been reportedly ahead of
turned into MDC-T campaign platforms elections expected later this year.
The meetings are now being shunned by other political parties. Zanu-PF and MDC’s Cde Didymus Mutasa and Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, respectively, said they were not aware of the meetings.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora said hisparty was responding to an invitation by the clergy to a religious peace project. Three meetings have been held in Chitungwiza, Masvingo and Mutare, with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addressing people.
One of the organisers, Reverend Joseph Munemo, last Thursday said the ‘prayers’ were mooted after a high-level indaba on violence held in Harare recently. The indaba was jointly addressed by President
Mugabe, PM Tsvangirai and Professor Welshman Ncube. However, sources said the parties have since boycotted the prayers as they have been turned into a platform for the gospel of regime change.
“The prayers are being organised at Harvest House, making them a regime change agenda, which is not neutral. It has turned into a false messianic partisan platform,” said a source.
The meetings are allegedly arranged by Rev Munemo and a director in the PM’s Office.
“It has become a campaign platform lending holiness to the MDC’s agenda, which is secular, and the pastors wanting to give it a holy touch.”
There are also allegations that the pastors received huge incentives to work on the programme.
“A lot of incentives are changing hands among the pastors, including the musicians who are playing at the meetings,” he said.
“The high point of these pseudo-religious events is a projected visit by a number of religious leaders from across the world.”
MDC-T, the sources said, has recognised that churches are key opinion makers.
“The idea is to go in subliminally in the holy hope to catch Zimbabwe politically off-guard,” he said.
However, Rev Munemo said they were yet to receive queries from the other parties.
“When these meetings are organised, we write letters to the principals and no one from the other parties attended while a Zanu-PF official attended in Mutare. We do not associate with politics and allegations of regime change are unfounded.”
He said the parties pray for all Zimbabwean leaders, ordinary people and their families.
“They are not political because we pray for peace at all levels. Unfortunately, it is only the MDC-T that has participated so far,” he said.
Rev Marume confirmed that they had indeed invited a number of religious leaders, including TB Joshua, Rev Jesse Jackson, Pastor TD Jakes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, but they had not received any responses to their invitations.
“The idea was inspired by the anti-violence indaba addressed by the principals and the church provoked its leadership who accepted it. We also had assurance that the peace prayers would be the culture in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Cde Mutasa said he was hearing about the prayer meetings for the first time.
“I have not been told about these prayers and I think the MDC-T is playing hide and seek,” he said.
He accused the MDC-T of coming up with a parallel programme to the one being organised by the political parties. The parties are working on a programme where the party leadership would address follow-up meetings to the high-level indaba on violence.
“We are organising as parties for a similar meeting to be addressed by the leadership in Bulawayo and the parties’ provincial chairmen addressing the meetings at provincial level,” he said.
Cde Mutasa, however, said the clergymen could continue with their programme without misrepresenting themselves to the people.
Mr Mwonzora said: “The peace prayers were being run by clergymen who have invited us and the other political parties have apparently not taken them seriously, but we in the MDC take matters of peace and national harmony seriously.”
He said Mr Tsvangirai was attending the meetings as a member of Government.
“Our leadership in Government has attended.
“The Prime Minister, in particular, made it clear that he is attending these meetings as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and not president of Zimbabwe,” he said.
He encouraged other parties to “seize the golden opportunity to be associated with peace”.