President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday hailed church leaders for their rallying call for unity, saying the broader society must emulate the clergy.
The President also committed to address concerns raised by indigenous churches that include access to land for purposes of worship as well as other viable programmes to materially promote their development.
With 2020 having been declared a year of production, the President implored churches to inspire their members to hard work and production in line with the national vision.
President Mnangagwa, who was accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, was speaking at the launch of the Zimbabwe Indigenous International Council of Churches (ZIICC) National Day of Prayer at the National Sports Stadium.
Addressing about 30 000 congregants at the convention, President Mnangagwa said the initiatives being undertaken by the Government to transform the country’s economy needed to be complemented by the churches’ support.
President Mnangagwa, who based much of his speech on biblical scriptures, implored the nation to commit its aspirations to God.
“However, as a country, we must pray for divine protection, economic prosperity and peace without ceasing. The Bible commands us to pray and to give thanks in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves.
“1 Thessalonians 5 verse 17-18: ‘Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’
“We must always commit all our national aspirations to the Almighty God; casting our burdens to him for surely he shall sustain us,” said the President.
President Mnangagwa urged church leaders to encourage their members to be productive, in line with Government’s theme for 2020.
“I have declared the year 2020 as a year of productivity and trade. I, therefore, call upon the leadership of all churches in Zimbabwe to engage, teach and encourage their congregants to be hardworking and productive. God has given us abundant natural resources throughout the country,” he said.
“We must harness these natural endowments to improve the quality of life for our people.”
He implored churches to “be visible and relevant to Government development initiatives” such as the devolution programme.
The President pledged to immediately address grievances raised by indigenous churches, in particular access to land for worship.
“Turning to your genuine concerns you have raised, in particular, the possible special consideration in accessing land for worship in both rural and urban areas, let me assure you that responsible authorities will look into the matter with the urgency it deserves.
“Equally, we have established institutions to deal with the youths, women, people living with disabilities and SMEs, among others,” he said.
The President applauded indigenous churches for standing behind Government in calling for the removal of sanctions imposed on the country.
“I want to thank you indigenous churches for mobilising your congregants to support and unite the Government and the SADC region in our call for the urgent removal of economic sanctions against our country. We commend that collective, loud and audible voice,” said President Mnangagwa.
In his remarks, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga applauded President Mnangagwa for offering the indigenous churches a platform for dialogue, which was part of his promise to be a listening President.
“Since assuming the leadership role of the Second Republic, His Excellency President Mnangagwa has indeed lived up to his promise that he is a listening President who welcomes ideas and dialogue from all walks of life,” he said.
The Vice President said the work being done by ZIICC clears the road to the “Promised Land” for Zimbabwe to become an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030 adding that churches played a complementary role in fighting current scourges such as the machete-wielding gangsters.
In his remarks, ZIICC patron Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi said churches were not involved in politics, but had a God-given mandate to pray for the nation and its leaders.
“We have thought to take our place as the church of Zimbabwe, but not focusing on politics but on our God-given mandate to be God’s intermediaries to his people,” he said.
“We are only here to pray for the leaders and pray for the country and to help work together and do all we can to maintain peace.”
VP Chiwenga said President Mnangagwa remained “at the top of our agenda in terms of our prayers because he is driving a big bus, which is our country Zimbabwe. To the shock or surprise of our detractors, Zimbabwe is still going strong. This is because Zimbabwe is a prayerful nation,” he said.
Bishop Roderick Makusha of Deeper Life Ministries urged MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to move on beyond the 2018 elections.
“You can claim that you were rigged, but at times you have to accept the result because God would have given his stamp of approval. You have to accept so that the nation goes forward,” he said.
“You should let bygones be bygones; you never know, maybe one day, you can be the winner.”
Prophet Andrew Wutawunashe of the Family of God church commended President Mnangagwa’s administration for upholding freedom of worship and supporting indigenous churches that had for a long time played second fiddle to foreign denominations.
Prophet Wutawunashe said opposition politicians should not focus on political battles at the expense of the general people.
“If we continue in the futile, adversarial and power-seeking politicking, which is solely based on the destructive opposition whose sole end is political power, we will abort the path to our own God-given prosperity,” he said.
“Let us, as we pray, heed the clarion call to unite and address our differences and work together for the agenda of strengthening and building our nation, which holds great dividends for our people.
“While our nation, just like other nations, has its own fair share of problems, the answer does not lie in cannibalising our own nation and the future of our own children by bowing to foreign powers.”
Several Cabinet ministers and senior Government officials attended the event.