By Idah Mhetu
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has offered some 101 churches, under the Zimbabwe Indigenous Interdenominational Council of Churches (ZIICC), access to free State land as a matter of urgency to construct places of worship, schools and for farming purposes.
He made the populist statement while addressing over 15 000 members of the different churches during the National Day of Prayer held at the National Sports Stadium Saturday.
The offer was made following an appeal by Nehemiah Mutendi of Zion Christian Church (ZCC).
Mutendi had told Mnangagwa that when the white colonialists came to Zimbabwe back in the 19th century, they brought with them missionaries who were allocated vast tracts of land to construct churches, schools and set up farms.
“Our demand is for land. When the colonialists from the previous regime came, they brought their own Christian churches and they received free land,” Mutendi told Mnangagwa.
“The colonial government gave them land for free. They can do agriculture there and they can also build headquarters there. Now we want the same, we want to be recognised. That is why we are praying to God but the prayer should be through you.
“This is our request. We want to be on the same level. We demand the same so that when we talk, we are on the same level,” he said.
“We would like to join the President’s Vision 2030, which is achieving the middle income economy by 2030. Mr President, we would like to preach to our congregation to have and own their own land. God has anointed us to pray for you our President,” he added.
In his response, Mnangagwa acknowledged the request by church leaders and said he would instruct the responsible authorities to look into the issue.
“You have requested for land from the government land to build churches, just like what the colonial government did to the churches during the colonial era,” said Mnangagwa.
“Let me assure you that responsible authorities will look into the matter with the urgency it deserves. I will instruct all the government institutions to allocate you free state land. We value freedom of worship,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ZIICC has also requested to be allocated a seat in Parliament as they make up 70% of the majority of churches in Zimbabwe. The request was made by Bishop Mabhiza of St John Apostolic Church Of The Whole World.
“Since the Christianity in Zimbabwe is dominating and exceeding 70 percent, we should have a representative in Parliament who can be able to represent us. We do not have anyone to represent us; we are like orphans in this country yet we are very religious,” said Mabhiza.