Speech by His Excellency the President, Comrade E. D. Mnangagwa, on the occasion of the interactive meeting with Churches in Zimbabwe at the Harare International Conference Centre, March 5, 2018.
I welcome you all to our first-ever interactive meeting with the senior church leadership from across Zimbabwe, mindful of the fact that, it is the good Lord who has made it possible.
Today’s deliberations have afforded us an opportunity to infuse biblical principles into the new dispensation, as enunciated in my inaugural address on 24 November 2017.
Since taking office as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I have used every opportunity to preach the message of peace, love, unity and forgiveness.
I believe this is the same message that you preach every day.
As we approach the harmonised elections later this year, I urge the church to reach out to all its congregants with this message.
I will soon be meeting with my fellow leaders of political parties in Zimbabwe to drum up the same message that all of us, as leaders, must actively shun violence, but rather exercise tolerance.
I repeat: “There is no need for violence”.
This is a new era.
Furthermore, the Holy Bible unequivocally tells us to stay united, for the simple reason that a house that is divided against itself, cannot stand.
As has often been said, love and unity correlate, for where there is no love, there is no unity.
I thank you, as church leaders, for instilling in me such tried and tested principles, for without them, I could not be what I am today.
Having elaborated on the need for love and unity in nation-building, I now want to turn to the focus of the new dispensation.
The priority of my Government is to resurrect our economy.
Though remaining true to our past, it is time to boldly embrace the future.
We are, therefore, embarking on a journey with the objective of an “end state”, characterised by real growth, and increased investment with the overarching objectives of empowering our people with skills, opportunities and jobs.
A key component of this drive, will be opening up Zimbabwe as a preferred destination for Foreign Direct Investment, by engendering an open, free and transparent economy.
In a nutshell, the era of an inward-looking Zimbabwe, is over.
In the same vein, I wish to point out that, real change takes time, and will not therefore occur overnight.
Outsiders have always marvelled and testified to the fact that Zimbabweans are dynamic, hard-working and entrepreneurial people.
I have no doubt that, together, we will drive this great country to success by unlocking the vast potential reposed therein, and build a new, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe for all.
In the last three months, we have managed to attract a commitment of three (3) billion United States Dollars’ worth of Foreign Direct Investments into the country.
To sustain this momentum, and further enhance productivity, I have vowed to have zero tolerance to corruption.
I passionately believe that, it is time for all Zimbabweans to take the path of truth, honesty and integrity.
To buttress this, I believe that, we have a responsibility as Government to lead by example.
This requires a God-fearing people, who are led by an infusion of biblical principles in all their endeavours, as highlighted in the Book of Romans 12 vs 2 and I quote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Allow me, to take this opportunity, to recognise the senior leadership in churches for enhancing the contribution of
Commissions, for instance, the recently sworn in National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, among others.
More often than not, they make important input in fostering restraint, temperance, responsiveness and responsibility in governance and other bodies.
I hold that, it is the duty of churches to urge commissions to refrain from vindictiveness, but instead promote fairness.
The church’s voice has been making strident calls for all commissions to be guided by equity and soberness in all their dealings, and never to be propelled by emotions.
Section 60 (subsection 1) of our national Constitution states that, every person has the right to freedom of conscience which includes freedom of religion and belief.
While subsection 4 complements this by unequivocally stating that, any religious community may establish institutions where religious instruction may be given.
In light of these fundamental provisions, my Government remains committed to upholding these constitutionally enshrined rights of freedom of worship.
In the same vein, therefore, I want to exhort the senior church leadership to mould society’s moral fibre, transform people’s lives, and help break the vicious cycle of poverty, depression, animosity, bitterness and malevolence, that currently ‘engulf’ some of our people.
Turning to economic growth and wealth creation, it is vital for each one of us to put our shoulders to the wheel, according to our different, but complementary endowments.
As the senior church leadership, therefore, you have an advisory and oversight role to play in fostering integration of biblical concept towards our economic resurgence, which inevitably impacts on the quality of life of our citizens.
Some of the areas requiring integration of biblical instruction include, but are not limited to, corporate governance.
Further to the above, Government calls upon churches to be active participants in programmes to achieve national goals and targets.
As senior church leaders, you are expected to continue to encourage your institutions to provide public goods and service such as schools, vocational training centres, business incubation centres, hospitals, clinics and orphanages across the country.
On a related note, I call upon traditional leaders and village elders to be receptive to the church in general, and avail land to them to engage in development programmes which create employment, and empower and improve the quality of life of people within their communities.
As Government we invite churches to participate in policy initiatives, such as Command Agriculture and associated agro-value chains, recapitalisation and resuscitation of industry, transport and infrastructure development, water reticulation and sanitation, religious tourism, education and health provision, among others.
I take this opportunity to inform you, that Government, encouraged by the unparalleled success of 2016-2017 summer cropping season, has expanded the Command Agriculture Programme to other sectors like wheat, cotton, soya beans, fish, and livestock and wildlife production.
On a related note, I am convinced that churches have the capacity to finance the development of Small and Medium Enterprises, vocational skills and training centres for our youths, as well as establishing cooperatives for respective congregants to be self-reliant and productive.
Most of you have already proved their mettle in the provision of hygiene, health and education, with the result that, at one point or another, most of our ministers, civil servants and technicians, went through church schools.
On the nexus between church and politics, I encourage the church to preach the gospel of tolerance, love, peace and forgiveness.
I am convinced that, this is the “message for the season” in our country, especially as we draw towards the 2018 harmonised elections.
Let us heed the exhortation made by Our Lord Jesus Christ in John 13 v 34 when he says, and I quote “A new commandment I give you is to love one another, as I have loved you, so you must also love one another”.
While there may be some disagreements between us, we should never allow our political discourse to turn poisonous.
As voters, we must reward those who seek dialogue and treat opponents with respect.
Above all, let us always bear in mind that we are a family, and what unites us as Zimbabweans is greater than anything that can divide us.
For younger generations, I urge you, as the senior church leadership, to come up with sustainable income-generating projects that will enable the youth to improve their quality of life.
This will deter them from engaging in untoward behaviour and other social ills such as alcoholism and the consumption of illicit drugs.
As spiritual custodians of our citizenry, I pray that the outcome of our deliberations will be cascaded to the pastors under your purview, and further down to congregants in your local churches, and the younger generation, the aged, the indigent and invalids, among others.
I wish that the Church Institutions and the State should continuously find the occasion to dialogue and make conversation to exchange views on our complementary role to our nation.
On my part as President of the country, my door remains open always.
God Bless Zimbabwe.
I thank you.