‘Churches can ensure peaceful polls’ Bishop Trevor Manhanga with the help of spiritual leaders from other Christian denominations prays for President of Zimbabwe His Excellence Dr Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu pf President Cde Kembo Mohadi, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development honourabe Sithembiso Nyoni and rest of the nation during National Thanksgiving and Dedication Service held at Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo yesterday. (Picture by Obey Sibanda)

Mashudu Netsianda

Bulawayo Bureau

Churches need to be instrumental in promoting unity to ensure peace and stability during by-elections scheduled for the first quarter of next year, President Mnangagwa said yesterday in Bulawayo at the annual National Thanksgiving and Dedication Service.

Addressing congregants at the 5th edition of the annual service at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds, President Mnangagwa said every citizen has a role to play in the development of the country.

“I want to highlight that in 2022, the country will be holding various electoral processes. I appeal to the church and citizens in general to play an active role in ensuring that peace and stability prevail in our country,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said the Church must entrench a culture of hard work and honesty among congregants as the country forges ahead with nation-building initiatives meant to improve livelihoods and achieve Vision 2030.

President Mnangagwa urged churches and other stakeholders to complement Government efforts in promoting the country’s economic growth and development in pursuance of the national vision of transforming the economy to an upper middle-income status by 2030.

“Under the Second Republic, all of us have a role to play. As we go into 2022, I call upon the Church to redouble its development initiatives and focus on projects that will complement my Government’s efforts to lift many of our people from poverty to prosperity. Faith without works is dead,” said the President.

He said beyond the Church and Government, at individual level, all Zimbabweans have a duty to pursue initiatives that will modernise, industrialise and grow the country’s economy.

President Mnangagwa said there is a need to scale up efforts to mould a morally upright, God-fearing and hardworking generation.

“We must never surrender our children and young people to the whims and caprices of this world. Our young people are the solid foundation and future upon which we must build our great country,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said parents must love, guide nurture and develop their children to be patriotic and hardworking national assets.

The by-elections were suspended at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but public health experts now believe they can be held with little risk so long as precautions are taken.

Seats in contention will be vacant constituency seats in the National Assembly and vacant seats of ward councillors in local authorities. Other parliamentary seats are elected by proportional representation using the 2018 party totals, and so are filled on the nomination of the party that held the seat when it became vacant.

While there are some by-elections for vacancies caused by death or resignation, most are vacant as a result of the MDC-T recalling members from Parliament and councils who were party nominees in the 2018 MDC-A party lists and who declined to acknowledge a Supreme Court judgment that found, on the MDC-T’s own rules, that Mr Nelson Chamisa had improperly assumed the party leadership after the death of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai. The High Court had also ruled that the MDC-A was an electoral pact of parties, not a party itself, so the MDC-T still existed in its old form.

There are 133 seats up for grabs in the National Assembly and councils.

In his address, President Mnangagwa stressed the need for high levels of public morality, in both public and private sectors.

“We also pray for men and women in our governance and politics as well as in every sector of the economy who are upright and who talk in integrity and fear of the Lord,” said President Mnangagwa.

He highlighted some of the developmental projects undertaken by the Second Republic after it adopted the devolution policy.

President Mnangagwa said through devolution Government has transformed the social development aspect across provinces. Through devolution funds provinces were able to build schools, clinics, roads, bridges and many other such key social amenities.

Prudent use of devolution funds has enabled councils to implement works identified by their communities and that in turn had enhanced participatory governance in provinces, districts and wards. The country is using its own resources to fund implementation of infrastructure such as roads, dams, schools, clinics, irrigation, water and sanitation.

Through the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme, Government has boosted rural incomes, made over 1 million families at least self-sufficient in food with many having surpluses for sale and is transforming former subsistence farmers into small-scale commercial farmers.

“These projects are evident for all to see, bringing unprecedented improvements in the quality of life of our people as we march towards Vision 2030. We are, thus, thankful to God Almighty for His endless grace and for granting my Government the wisdom to pursue our policies and implement projects as well as the creation of innovation and knowledge-driven ecosystems for our young people to thrive,” he said.

“Through the numerous policies and projects being implemented by my Government, no-one and no place will be left behind as we journey towards Vision 2030.”

The President said the multi-pronged development agenda is being prioritised and accelerated, especially in marginalised rural areas and communities.

“The rural industrialisation programme is underway. Recently, we rolled out the new programme for modernising and empowering all of Zimbabwe’s 35 000 villages. This will see the drilling of boreholes to provide clean water in rural communities around which horticulture economic activities will be stimulated; communities empowered; young people employed and grassroots incomes improved,” he said.

The President said he also committed himself to consulting and working with traditional leaders throughout the country to address issues that have historically disadvantaged rural communities. Feedback from the chiefs has enriched policy formulation and project prioritisation.

“In urban areas, we are committed to continue improving social amenities by accelerating infrastructure development, facilitating industrialisation as well as creating innovation and knowledge-driven ecosystems for our young people to thrive,” he said.

President Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans to be true patriots and good stewards by assuming total responsibility for developing their country.

He extensively quoted from the scriptures as he spread a message of love, hard work and nation-building.“Our nation has continued to enjoy peace and tranquillity. We have been favoured by the Lord with abundant rains and through hard work, we realised an unprecedented harvest which contributed to an upturn in our economy,” he said.

“We are stewards of God’s immense wealth found within the boundaries of our country called Zimbabwe. Even as 1 Corinthians 4 verse 2 emphasises that ‘it is required in stewards that one be found faithful’. Let us be diligent and committed to working for our nation.”

He said the mantra “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo” identifies each and every citizen as an owner and equally, a builder of Zimbabwe.

“Brick by brick and stone upon stone, let us therefore strengthen our resolve to build our beloved motherland towards the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030,” he said.

On its part, President Mnangagwa said, Government is pursuing a new inclusive development model which is entrenching the Godly values of unity, love, harmony as well as patriotism among all Zimbabweans.

“Zimbabwe is our nation bestowed to us by God with all its land that which is on it and under it. It is the God of war who strengthened our arms for war and gave us victory during the protracted armed struggle for independence,” said President Mnangagwa.

“We now have an obligation and responsibility as outlined in Genesis 1 verse 28 to be fruitful and to multiply that which God has entrusted under our care.”

The President commended efforts by the church in Zimbabwe to reverse the damage done to the economy and the livelihoods of people through biased doctrines and religious systems of the colonial era.

“Gone are the days when we accepted a theology that taught us that our economic fortunes here on earth are of no consequence as happiness is reserved in heaven. Now we know that the Word of God teaches us that Christ came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10 verse 10),” he said.

“Furthermore, Ephesians 1 verse 3 assures us that God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. As a nation, we should never be apologetic about desiring prosperity in all its facets even as our soul prospers.”

The President said despite illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by some Western countries, the country has managed to handle Covid-19 in a manner that greatly reduced the number of fatalities.

“In our response to this pandemic and drawing from Daniel 2 verse 23, today let us also say, ‘I thank and praise you, God: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked for’. God gave us wisdom, He blessed us with the requisite financial resources for vaccine procurement,” he said.

President Mnangagwa hailed China, India and Russian for helping the country by donating vaccines towards the Covid-19 national response.

He also paid tribute to Baba Apostle Dr Abel Sande and Father Emmanuel Ribeiro, both of whom passed away this year.

The annual event has since its inception in December 2017 hosted several inter-denominational congregants from across the country. It is held every last Sunday of the year.

This year’s theme is “Pursuing Nation Building Initiatives in the Spirit of Godly Patriotism, Ownership, Unity and Inclusiveness”.

The church service was organised by the Faith for the Nation Campaign — an inter-denominational grouping of local churches.

It is a platform where believers meet the country’s leadership to intercede for the nation.

The leader of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi commended the Second Republic for stabilising the economy.

He also noted that the economic reforms are beginning to bear fruit. Bishop Mutendi urged Zimbabweans to remain focused and hopeful in the wake of illegal sanctions imposed by Western countries.

Apostle Andrew Wutawunashe, the founder of the Family of God Church (FOG) and chairman of Faith for the Nation Campaign, urged churches to rally behind President Mnangagwa in his call for peace, unity and love.

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