SW Radio Africa Hot Seat Transcript
Hot Seat interview: Zimbabwe Church leaders part 2
Bishop Trevor Manhanga (on the right), the Chairman of Heads of Denominations and head of delegation of the Zimbabwe National Vision Document that was launched last year, Pastor Ray Motsi (on the left), the spokesperson of the Christian Alliance (the conveners of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign) and Pius Ncube (in the middle), the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo. Ncube is one of the Bishops who signed the Pastoral letter.
Broadcast on 24 April 2007
Violet Gonda: Welcome to the concluding debate with church leaders Bishop Trevor Manhanga, Pastor Ray Motsi and Archbishop Pius Ncube. In this part of the discussion we hear the church leaders' views on the opposition in Zimbabwe but first, Pastor Motsi picks up from where the discussion ended last week on the issue of what form of resistance the Church should be engaging in right now.
Pastor Ray Motsi: I think we need to be very clear. The problem in Zimbabwe is not an MDC/ZANU PF problem. The problem is people in Zimbabwe are suffering. For your own information some members of the MDC and ZANU PF are actually living pretty. They may not actually feel the suffering of the people in Zimbabwe and therefore to continue to actually think that the problem in Zimbabwe is ZANU PF and MDC whilst the majority of the people we have 90% of unemployment and people cannot afford a meal a day I think the more we continue to think that the problem is at that level and that the ordinary people who are voiceless, who are harmless, they are marginalized I think we are doing a disservice to God. Our mandate and our mission from the Church is from the bible. What does the bible say about the situation in Zimbabwe? I think it's a bad situation, it's an evil situation because people are suffering and I think that is what we must talk about.
Violet: And also I would like to go back to the question that Bishop Manhanga asked and I think it's very important and its also to do with the issue of the way forward. Archbishop Ncube what is the nature of resistance that the Church should take right now?
Archbishop Pius Ncube: I think we can learn from South Africa. In South Africa they were dealing with the Apartheid government and they held meetings sometimes they held marches even to the risks of being shot while they marched. The Pastors would march in front and they organized a whole lot of activities to put pressure on the government. They even negotiated that sanctions should be imposed on the Apartheid government and that was agreed to by the western powers. The loans and so on were embargoed and so forth. So we must learn from them. Churches must stop this sweet-talk and engage now into putting pressure which will cause the government to bend. You see in South Africa they were dealing with hardliners there white people who had been 350 years there and they didn't want to let go. They thought they had a divine right to rule but there had to be a lot of pressure to arm twist them to force them to the table. So these people have to be forced to the table by lots of other pressure rather than sweet-talk. Marches, protests, prayer services and training people on how to avoid I think Churches must have some kind of contract together with civil bodies to have a common front and to have common actions with trade unions and so forth. Non-violent action. There must be a contract to bring the government down if they are refusing to negotiate. We cannot be sweet anymore with these people who have oppressed us. It's the 8 th year running now.
Violet: Bishop Manhanga can you see your group signing up or supporting this kind of activism?
Bishop Manhanga: Well look Violet, I think that for our part, I don't think we have reached the stage whereby the doors to government, and I agree with Pastor Ray Motsi this is not an issue of the politicians alone, we are trying to deal with the people who are in government. I don't think joining up with the people some of the civil society groups may not have the same objectives as the Church and the noble objectives of the Church may be usurped by some of these other groups. And I feel it is very dangerous. That's where we get sucked in even though we may want to make a non violent demonstration or we may want to make a non violent street march to air our grievances. That quickly because we are bringing other elements in who do not share our commitment to non violence and Christian principles and then what happens? The very thing the Church is trying to prevent is what becomes on the ground destruction of property, destruction of life. And I say I cannot be part of that because we don't want to lose people's lives unnecessarily because at this time the doors to talk are still open. I hear what my brother Archbishop Pius is saying but I think that, look the time has not yet arrived as I see it whereby we say 'it is a total waste of time talking to government.' I think we must still talk to them, I think we have not gone over the precipice. That is my personal opinion. I think we should do whatever we can and then if the time comes when we say that we are not making any progress and we are dealing with a government that doesn't want to listen totally to us then obviously the Church has to re-look and say 'ok we have been doing all these things there is no improvement what do we do?'
Violet: What about you thoughts Pastor Motsi, it seems Zimbabwe has become too polarized and also tend to be too passionate about the crisis that people tend to pick one side or another. Or that they don't want to hear the truth because they want change. Now do you think we should have higher morality of opposition leaders?
Pastor Ray Motsi: Without any doubt. Obviously our quest is that those that are into politics and those that aspire to get into political positions must be people that are of higher regard for the law and morality for this nation and human rights. And therefore we actually desire to see people who are of high caliber to occupy such echelons of political authority. I think I need to contribute to this argument concerning the argument of the approach that we must take. I think whilst we approach the problem of Zimbabwe from diverse point of departures the aim and the reason must be the same. The aim is to bring about a desired goal which is, as far as I am concerned, transformation of every aspect. We need a multiplicity of approaches in order to pressurize the powers that be and everybody else who is involved, including the politicians to behave in a manner that the people of Zimbabwe want. Not what they want. Rather than them telling us what is right we Zimbabweans we need to tell the leaders what is right and therefore the multiplicity of approaches will actually help us in understanding that there is no one group that has got the monopoly of truth and the monopoly of know how of how best to deal with the problem of Zimbabwe at the moment. I think there is need for some stakeholders' approach to come together to deal with this issue. It's a Zimbabwean problem and therefore Zimbabweans need to come together. That's my case as far as this is concerned.
Violet: And Archbishop Ncube on the issue of political parties there are some people who say we ignored that aspect of Robert Mugabe that was dictatorial from the beginning and that we are ignoring this issue in the MDC. Now do you think there needs to be some kind of truth speaking when dealing with the opposition?
Archbishop Pius Ncube: Yes I think the tendency is that Robert Mugabe's behavior has tended to be seen as standard, unconsciously. You see this man has been sitting on our backs for the last 27 years and so unconsciously we take in even some of his bad behavior as though it's alright. So it's wrong for people in the opposition to take the party, their party as though they are the owners of the party. The people can always change and get some other party but there is this possessiveness amongst some people even in the opposition you find it. I heard that a party leader was saying 'over his dead body would he allow anyone else would take over his leadership even in the opposition.' Now that attitude is wrong. They must be humble enough to allow the people to choose another leader you can always start something good. Let others take over and continue it you don't have to cling to it.
Violet: Bishop Manhanga, your views on the opposition.
Bishop Manhanga: Violet I think the problem we make hear let's look even with President Mugabe. President Mugabe is the leader of ZANU PF but ZANU PF is made up of so many people. I think that if people are unhappy with a particular leader, and I use that analogy, they should form their own party. I am saying that often times we say the problem is Mugabe, what about the people in ZANU PF. We say that the problem is Morgan Tsvangirai but what about the people in the MDC? All Zimbabweans even in the Zimbabwean problem are complicit. We must ask ourselves as Pastor Ray said, 'what have we done in the situation?' So, when we talk about the opposition, I think if people are not happy, for example, with Tsvangirai's leadership, if they don't follow the laid down procedures in their party then they must form their own party. If they are not happy with Mutambara it's no use sitting there saying 'this man is a dictator' but you don't want to do anything about the problem. That's the problem. Everybody says these things but at the time when something should be done everybody cops out or chickens out and that's the problem. I think we get the kind of leaders we deserve at the end of the day!
Violet: But Pastor Motsi what are your views on this. Do you think that is the solution that if you are not happy with a particular leadership then you form your own party?
Pastor Ray Motsi: I think in a true democracy that would actually be true there is no reason why anybody could actually form his own party or her own party if they so wish. But again going back to Bishop Manhanga's point earlier on, I personally believe as a nation we need to learn to have conflict resolution and know how to handle our conflicts in a manner that will make us better people in the future because we are learning from our mistakes. But as it is there is no indication at all of learning from the past in order for us to have a better future and therefore I personally believe that history is coughing at us because instead of learning from it we are actually making, in my own opinion, blunders that even history itself never saw. And as a result I find it extremely, extremely difficult that as Zimbabweans it seems we are not mature there is no tolerance in term that people cannot actually be in the same room and in the same country holding different opinion and views and coming from different schools of thought. We don't have to think that because I have a different view it means I got it from outside the country. It means that us as Zimbabweans are so stupid that we can never come up with new ideas of how to actually handle our situation and that to me it is so bad and unfortunate in our country.
Violet: And as the conveners of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign does this problem exist in the pro-democracy movement?
Pastor Ray Motsi: WellI think it's a Zimbabwean problem to be honest with you. I think its Zimbabwean problem. You can see it manifesting in all kinds of areas of our country and I personally believe I'm of the opinion that whilst a few people have had a very strong nationalist perspective not all Zimbabweans have had such a nationalistic approach as is needed in order for us to go forward as a nation.
Violet: And Archbishop Ncube in terms of the Zimbabwe recovery plan, do you have greater hopes for a reformed ZANU PF or what you see in the MDC?
Archbishop Pius Ncube: The thing is perhaps it is possible that there can be a reformed ZANU PF but up to now the history of ZANU PF that we have had in the last 27 years where as soon as they are threatened they become violent. For the last month they have been abducting up to 600 people and torturing them, beating them, some they have even killed. So I think a party is judged by its activities. The people of Zimbabwe have by now lost confidence in ZANU PF let them try other parties because the way I see it its tainted, heavily tainted this party. There can always be new parties. Some parties rise and die and new parties formed. In regards to the MDC also, well it still has to prove itself. Some people speak very nicely before they are in power but once they are in power sometimes they do exactly the same thing the oppressor was doing. I mean Mugabe took over from Rhodesia Front but now he is trying exactly the same tactics, which he was denouncing. So hopefully if another party rolls and takes over power it doesn't do exactly the same mistakes but people should always be given the liberty to change leadership when they are dissatisfied. But ZANU PF believes that we are their property so arrogant are they they think that we are their property. And the idea of leaving ZANU PF to start another party, we know very well that any party, which becomes very strong, would be intimidated. As long as the party is weak they have no problems with it. But as soon as a party is a threat to them, like ZAPU was a threat to them and MDC is a threat to them then they will thrash it. They use violence that is their classical code. Use violence to bash the people so that they remain, you imbibe them to stay in ZANU PF. It is as though ZANU PF is an end in itself it should be a means to an end not an end in itself.
Violet: Your thoughts Bishop Manhanga.
Bishop Manhanga: You see Violet, what I would say is that just recently the ZANU PF Central Committee sat together. If within ZANU PF people are opposed to President Mugabe being the leader why didn't they stand up in that meeting and say 'we don't want Mugabe to lead us into the next election?' I think once the Central Committee has endorsed it they had been given a chance within the party. I come to the MDC they have Congress. Once they endorse Morgan Tsvangirai as their President, well I find it difficult that people start fighting saying this person is an oppressor he is not our leader. I don't know the internal mechanization within this party, but I am saying if Zimbabweans whether in MDC or ZANU PF are not happy with the leadership surely they have an opportunity to express themselves within their various party caucuses and inline with their constitution. And when you don't see this happening I think then that is a great indictment on us as Zimbabweans if at those particular points within our political structures we are afraid or we are what's the word? Cowards - that we can't stand up. But once a person has been endorsed I'm in no position to say this person should not lead this party. That is within their part and whoever they choose that is their choice.
Violet: And my question was, and that is the question that I had also asked Archbishop Ncube, in terms of the Zimbabwe recovery plan do you have greater hopes for a reformed ZANU PF or MDC?
Bishop Manhanga: You know this is my desire Violet. I think Zimbabwe can turn around because Zimbabwe has got an amazing amount of talent both within ZANU PF and MDC and outside of politics. If we could tap into those people and not just look at people along party lines I am telling you this country would be the Switzerland of Africa. It would be an amazing place to live. I think that's where we should go in the future. We should put Zimbabwe first not our party, not our allegiance to any leader. We have got amazing people of all political persuasions. So I am not really looking towards a reformed ZANU PF or a transformed MDC. I am looking to whoever forms the next government in this country to have a patriotic fervor that looks at people and what they have to offer. If we do that we have a tremendous chance to turn this country around.
Violet: Pastor Motsi?
Pastor Ray Motsi: I think we really need to put aside a patriotic and nationalist bigotry where patriotism and nationalism is actually defined along party lines because Zimbabwe is for all Zimbabweans who are here whether they are aligned themselves with party politics or not. And the question you asked is about the hope for transformation. On a personal level not representing CA (Christian Alliance) per say or Save Zimbabwe per say, I personally believe we have had ZANU PF for all these years and they have had their chance to actually transform this nation and therefore from a political point of view I really wish that there would really be transformation because ZANU PF itself is not actually transforming. It's not actually transforming the situation to a point where everybody in Zimbabwe is beginning to enjoy the benefits. Therefore I think everybody is looking for a wholesome transformation in Zimbabwe. Now I don't know whether the MDC is the party that will actually bring the kind of desired transformation that is needed in this country. But it's transformation we need and I think desperately.
Violet: And before we go Pastor Motsi a final word?
Pastor Ray Motsi: My final word is that the Zimbabwean people need to come together to begin to actually work together in a way in which that only us as Zimbabweans will be able to bring about the change and transformation in this country in a non violent peaceful way and conflict resolution. Because we do have conflicts and we need those things to be resolved in a manner that will help us. But I also believe that one of the key aspects that we have is a constitution and I don't think we can actually transform the nation willy nilly without having touched the constitution and therefore that is an important aspect that also needs to be touched and brought onto the national agenda because it is not a ZANU PF issue neither is it an MDC issue. It is a Zimbabwean issue. That is my conclusion.
Bishop Manhanga: Violet we are going to elections probably within the next 12 months or so. My desire and my hope is that these elections will not be characterized by what we have seen in the past. We would want an electoral process that is agreed upon and acceptable to all parties prior to, during and after the process. And after that electoral process let's all come together. Let's have a situation whereby we can all embrace the winner or winners of that election and know that for the next five years we are going to build the country together. This country cannot afford another disputed electoral process which leads to further polarisation, further isolation, further antogonisation and bloodshed. So I pray and I hope that we will get that kind of situation and next year as we go to elections if they are all harmonized we agree as Zimbabweans to accept those results. Once they are out we accept them and then we agree to meet after five years again in another electoral process that will give us a chance to start again as a nation.
Violet: And Archbishop Pius Ncube.
Archbishop Pius Ncube: People of Zimbabwe as well as all Africa they must stop this business of putting their politicians on the pedestal. We have destroyed ourselves by over admiring these politicians. We must hold our politicians accountable to us. They were elected by us to work for us and now they are making themselves masters over us and they are so arrogant and people sink deeper and deeper into suffering. So the idea of operating outside political frames that will not be possible in Zimbabwe because we are hindered by laws and these people are not allowing us to change and you can be sure that they are not keen about the change of the constitution because they will lose power. So let Zimbabweans be brave enough to hold their politicians accountable and when the politicians fail in their accountability and they are no longer people centered let Zimbabweans be courageous enough to bring them down! To derail them because they have failed. This idea of sweet-talk, carrying on both shoulders when people have shown explicitly in every way for a good 27years that they are not people centered, that they are dictatorial, that they are murderers, that they are liars we cannot continue with it. Let Zimbabweans be courageous enough to hold their politicians accountable and if they don't live up to the mandate given to them let them kick them out and bring them down by civic disobedience.
Violet: Archbishop Pius Ncube, Bishop Trevor Manhanga and Pastor Ray Motsi thank you very much for participating on the programme Hot Seat.
Thank you Violet.
Violet: And next week we talk to political leaders Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, Professor Arthur Mutambara and civic leader Dr Lovemore Madhuku.
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