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Churches urge Zimbabwe military to hand power to transitional authority

Photo: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) inspects a guard of honour before officially opening the 107th edition of the Harare Agricultural Show in Harare, Zimbabwe, 25 August 2017. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

On Harare’s streets, locals have expressed amazement and delight that President Robert Mugabe’s long reign may be coming to a close, but also admit the future looks unstable.

UG Christian News has learnt that heads of Christian denominations in Zimbabwe have urged the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, which toppled President Robert Mugabe’s government on Wednesday, to hand over power to a civilian transitional government that will oversee the smooth transition to a free and fair election.

The Voice of America – Zimbabwe, reported on Thursday that Church leaders, in a statement, emphasized that the army is capable of handing over power to a civilian transitional government since it has “stressed that theirs is not a military coup but an effort to manage the current situation” in the country.

Zimbabwe’s constitution does not have a provision for a transitional government, according to VOA Zimbabwe, but one of the heads of the Christian denominations, Anglistone Sibanda, said this is the only way of settling the conflict between the military generals and President Robert Mugabe’s government.

“We now have to come to a situation where we agree on the way forward … We may not fail to come up with the way forward because the constitution did not foresee that (transitional government) …” the Clergy said.

They added: “The current situation gives as an opportunity to reach out to each other. There is no way we can go back to the political arrangements we had some days ago. We are in a new situation. But our shared future will only be realised through dialogue. This dialogue cannot only happen within the ruling party. What we need is a National Envisioning Process (NEP) that will capture the aspirations of all the sectors of society.

Mugabe, who is under house arrest after the military took control, led Zimbabwe to independence. He sacked his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, seemingly provoking the intervention of the military, which reportedly opposed First Lady Grace Mugabe’s emergence as the likely next president, according to sources.

Two days after Mnangagwa was sacked, he fled the country saying there were “incessant threats” to his life, his political career apparently in tatters.

Nicknamed the “Crocodile”, the 75-year-old is close to General Constantino Chiwenga, the army commander, who led the military take over, and he had warned Mr Mugabe that he would challenge the president’s rule shortly after he fled, sources say.

He accused Mr Mugabe, who has ruled with an iron grip for nearly 40 years, of using the ruling Zanu-PF party as his “personal property”.

Analysts say that Mr Mnangagwa might now be restored as vice-president. He could then be sworn in as acting president at a conference of the ruling Zanu-PF party that is scheduled for next month, the analysts explain further.

Precious Shumba, director of Harare Residents Trust action group, told Times of Israel, Zimbabwe is entering “a new phase.”

“Now at least we break with the past,” she said. “My wish is that they immediately announce a transitional government and state clearly when the country will have the next elections.

“We need a transitional government to rid the country of the toxic politics of patronage, corruption and nepotism.” she added.

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