By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
WAR VETERANS have stormed the raging tirade pitting government and Catholic priests with the militant pro-Zanu PF group telling the clerics to stop “playing with fire”.
This comes after the men of the cloth, speaking under their umbrella Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC), wrote a pastoral letter condemning government for putting the country through “a multi-layered crisis”, including economic collapse, deepening poverty, corruption and human rights abuses.
Government gave a swift, strongly worded response, describing the clerics as “genocidal and evil-minded.”
The fall-out has seen a brisk week of bitter exchanges between government and its backers on one hand, and the clerics with their sympathisers on the other.
Likewise, war veterans have sprung to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s defence, launching their customary threats against government critics.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) Mashonaland West chairman, Cornelia Muwoni said the church should pray for the country’s leadership to have wisdom to steer the economy out of its current mess, rather than launch direct attacks on Mnangagwa and his allies.
“If bishops start abusing free speech to say the president or the government has no capacity to lead this country, they are misguided hypocrites.
“These are the same people that liberated the masses from colonial bondage,” said Muwoni.
Muwoni was speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Thursday on the sidelines of the burial of Dimingu Foya (80), who was declared a liberation war hero and interred at Chinhoyi Provincial Heroes’ Acre.
He said the Catholic church must rein in its bishops he said “were playing with fire and must know when to stop”.
Added Muwoni, “They (bishops) shouldn’t think this country can be governed in such a fashion they deem appropriate just to please them.
“Even God doesn’t permit what they are doing, slandering the country’s leaders. They are the ones rebelling against the sacrosanct word, the Holy scriptures, that they should be propagating.”
The war veterans’ leader said church elders who were dabbling in politics should come out clean and form their own political parties.
“If they think they are better leaders, they should form their own political parties,” he said.
The ZNLWVA provincial chair labelled the bishops “rapists”, who sexually abused fellow male congregants’ wives.
Muwoni inadvertently admitted the government was violating human rights by arbitrarily arresting opposition politicians, labour and civil society activists, journalists and ordinary citizens dissenting against a failed economy, corruption, among other ills.
“Government is lawfully arresting criminals and those slandering our leaders. In order to correct things, there is some degree of force needed to ensure things change,” said Muwoni.
He added that bishops were now posing as mercenaries bent on destabilising the country’s peace and stability in order to effect regime change.
Mnangagwa has come under intense pressure from various quarters to urgently fix the country’s moribund economy or resign.