Originally published in Daily News Zimbabwe
The Church is convening an interface meeting of all presidential candidates aimed at fostering peace ahead of the crunch July 30 elections in Zimbabwe.
The meeting is scheduled for the Jesuit-run Arrupe College in Mt Pleasant tomorrow.
Running under the theme “Promoting Peace and Mutual Respect in a Multi-party Zimbabwe”, each presidential candidate — including the front-runners President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance head Nelson Chamisa — are set to address the audience and sell their manifestos.
The same will be expected of other candidates including Joice Mujuru, Thokozani Khupe, Nkosana Moyo, Daniel Shumba, Lovemore Madhuku, Noah Manyika, and others.
Speaking at a media briefing organised by the Catholic-run peace-building and leadership training institute, Silveira House, in conjunction with the citizens, multiparty and the business community in Harare yesterday, Father Frederick Chiromba, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, told reporters at least 80 percent of the candidates had confirmed their participation by the time of holding the presser yesterday.
“…each of the presidential candidates in the 2018 election will get a chance to address an audience of about 3 000 people drawn from different political parties and churches. The objectives of this multi-party Interface is to inculcate in people a sense of multi-party democracy and a spirit of mutual respect in a context of differing political opinions,” he said.
“The overall aim of this endeavour is the promotion of long lasting peace and a broader socio-political imaginary, thereby laying a firmer foundation for meaningful development in the process. The presence of the presidential candidates in a single space, with each of them addressing the same audience, will be of actual and symbolic significance, one that will imprint itself on the political psyche of those present and those following the event on national television.”
He said it will be symbolical because it will teach the multi-party society dictates of tolerance for different political views but helping people to live peacefully.
“The presence of the presidential candidates next to each other will serve to remind citizens of the value of peaceful coexistence irrespective of political affiliation. We all share the same aspirations of peace and prosperity for our country, even if we may differ on how these ought to be achieved,” Father Chiromba said.
“The presidential candidates will get an opportunity to share their party manifestos with the audience as well as commit to a peaceful electoral process. They will also get a chance to respond to two pre-selected questions (they will be given these before the event, no ambush).”
The church and the business community will also share a word of peace during the event.
He said the political space has opened up, allowing people to express their opinions more freely than before.