By Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa could finally meet with his number one challenger Nelson Chamisa before the July 30 presidential election, if plans by a local church group to bring together all contesting presidential candidates are anything to go by.
The plans by the Catholic run Silveira House are aimed at both preserving and growing the prevailing peace in the country.
Silveria House, which is involved with peace building, is organising a multi-party interface where each one of the 23 aspiring presidential candidates in the 2018 election race will get a chance to address the same audience under one roof.
According to the organisers, a 3000 strong audience is expected to attend the gathering and the event will take place at Arrupe Jesuit University in Mt Pleasant, Harare.
This will be a second attempt to bring the presidential candidates under one roof after the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) tried it on the Peace Pledge signing ceremony where Mnangagwa and Chamisa sent representatives.
Addressing the media Tuesday, Father Fredrick Chiromba, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference said the objective of high profile meeting was to inculcate a sense of multiparty democracy and spirit of mutual respect in a context of differing political opinions.
This, he said, will lay a firm foundation for a meaningful development in the country.
“The presence of the presidential candidates in a single space with each one of them addressing the same audience will be of actual and symbolic significance, one that will imprint itself on the political psyche of those present and those following the event through the media,” Father Chiromba said.
“The presence of presidential candidates sitting next to each other will serve to remind citizens of the value of peaceful coexistence irrespective of political affiliation.”
He added, “We share the same aspirations of peace and prosperity for our country even if we may differ on how to be achieved.”
He went on to say that they have already received confirmation from the majority of the Presidential candidates regarding their presence and participation in the planned event.
“It will be indeed an exciting moment for the electorate, a first for Zimbabwe,” Father Chiromba said.
“They will also get a chance to respond to two pre-selected questions which they will be given before the event so as not to ambush them.”
The first election to be conducted since the ouster of President Robert Mugabe last November has been widely described as the most peaceful since independence.
A meeting between two top presidential contenders and even more candidates vying for the same job was unheard of during Mugabe’s rule.