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ED Government legitimacy and the role of the church

13/01/2018 00:00:00
by Learnmore Zuze
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While it is very imperative that the country returns to constitutionalism, it is equally crucial to realize that  the events of 18 November that led to ex-President Robert Mugabe’s ouster were unforeseen and, only after credible elections can there be a full return to constitutionalism.

The manner in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power a month ago remains a much-talked about point with the bulk of his critics hammering on the question of legitimacy. The point has been put across with savagery by the incumbent’s critics that he has no mandate of the people and therefore is an illegitimate leader.

This line of thought has been synonymous with people who are hardcore politicians and have waged a war from polar opposite political dimensions with Mnangagwa. It is however, the recent addition of the voice of the church to the matter which brings in a curious dimension to the whole matter.

It is laudable for the church to be seen taking an active role in matters of governance contrary to some views which emphasise sheepishness of the church in politics. The church, some have argued, should stand on the sidelines and observe political events unfold.

It was therefore in that spirit that last Thursday, at a press conference organized by the Divine Destiny Ministries a coalition of churches under Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, the matter was brought into the fray. Magaya made his thoughts known on the question of legitimacy of the Mnangagwa administration. Bishop Magaya stated that Mnangagwa’s government was illegitimate despite global support. “People should acknowledge the fact that the so called “Operation Restore Legacy” by the military was a coup d’etat… anyone who rises to power through a coup is illegitimate,” he said.

In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone stating their views in a purported democracy but, to an extent, Bishop Magaya must also accept the fact that Robert Mugabe’s regime was itself, strictly speaking, illegitimate having denied opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirayi claim to presidency in 2008 even as he acknowledged.

The fact of worldwide acceptance of Mnangagwa’s rise to power speaks to a country that had reeled from years of abuse. Zimbabweans were pitied by people across the world who had never set foot in Zimbabwe seeing the trail of destruction left by Mugabe.  While it is naturally an affront for the world to embrace military intervention, this was strangely welcomed internationally because of a plain fact that Bishop Magaya should acknowledge. It had become extremely urgent that Robert Mugabe goes for the nation of Zimbabwe to progress. Mugabe had become the proverbial problem on two legs for the country. It benumbs the mind therefore, whether early critics of the Mnangagwa government would want the Mugabe government to bounce back. Honestly, isn’t it inane to criticize without offering a remedy? Or maybe these critics want elections held next week. People must be judicious in reasoning.


In this light, one wonders how else Mnangagwa or anyone else would have assumed presidency. True, we all clamour for an urgent return to constitutionalism; we all want a leader who is in power through the will of the people. Bishop Magaya, therefore, may have spoken impulsively in berating a government that has promised to hold elections in a free and fair manner.

Mnangagwa has been making the right moves although there are a myriad places demanding attention. In this light, it is rather premature for the church to go about berating the government; the remarks are hasty and ill-timed. We need to be reasonable in our quest for a return to constitutionalism. Of course, every Zimbabwean bears the ugly scars from the brutal Mugabe regime but to condemn Mnangagwa despite his past association with Mugabe is myopic.

Magaya further stated, “We implore on President Mnangagwa to move away from Mugabe’s culture of violence, arbitrary arrest of people who are exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate and rigging elections.” This call was definitely on point and worth the support. Mnangagwa must never be so busy to realize that citizens are being brutalized as happened to the Mthwakazi Party youths who were assaulted for demonstrating against Mnangangwa. It becomes pressing for Mnangagwa’s government to restore the confidence of the people. The church is well within its boundaries to demand that the rule of law is applied.

The outspoken Bishop went on to condemn Mnangagwa for the selective arrests of the G40 faction on feeble corruption charges claiming that there are many in his cabinet who deserved to be arrested.

Indeed, Mnangagwa would do well to instill a sense of fairness otherwise he risks wearing Mugabe’s tag.

All said and done, while the church has done well to add its voice to this important national matter, it is equally important to acknowledge that reforms and a return to constitutionalism van fully take effect after a credible election.

E-mail lastawa77@gmail.com


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