The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) says it has forgiven former President Robert Mugabe for his “transgressions” in office over the past 37 years and implored new President Emmerson Mnangagwa to put in place inclusive transitional mechanisms to level the political playing field ahead of next year’s watershed elections.
Mugabe is a devoted Catholic.
“We thank the former President for the good work he did for Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle and as President for 37 years. We forgive him for any shortcomings during his long tenure of office. We wish the new incumbent every blessing and success,” the ZCBC said in a statement.
The church implored Mnangagwa to incorporate people from all walks of life into his government to promote transition into a fully-fledged democracy.
“Beyond this crisis, a sustainable normalisation of Zimbabwe can only be achieved through a people-inclusive and participatory process in a democratic way. We encourage the governance of Zimbabwe in any transition that may be adopted to embrace all Zimbabweans in their diversity and their oneness. This is a Kairos moment where all Zimbabweans should have a voice in this transition,” the Catholic bishops’ statement read.
The church leadership, which has in the past issued hard-hitting statements against Mugabe, accusing him of gross human rights abuses, clamping down on dissenting voices and conducting bloody elections, said only a national transitional authority would cure the nation’s wounded body politic.
“In 2016, together with the other heads of churches under the umbrella body of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, we called for the establishment of a national programme for transformation which would consist of short and long term goals.”
In the main, the church said only genuine electoral reforms would solve the economic challenges that have condemned many into poverty.
“We need to work for electoral reforms to restore confidence in the plebiscite. The realisation of free and fair elections in 2018 will make the outcome more acceptable internally and externally,” the church said.