And in a major departure from the mild positions that faith-based organisations usually take with regard to politics, churches under the ambit of the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD) even threatened to embark on “mass action” to help force Mugabe to leave office.
ZDD’s announcement also came as public sector workers ratcheted up their threats to embark on strikes if their salaries were not paid in full now.
Addressing a media conference in Harare yesterday, ZDD executive director, Ancelimo Magaya, said churches would soon embark on peaceful demonstrations to help force Mugabe to step down.
“This is the right time for action. There is no better time than this. I am saying President Mugabe should step down and Zimbabweans should mount pressure to make sure that the president steps down. But the pressure must be violent-free.
“I believe strongly that there is an emergence of a prophetic force that is going to be unstoppable. The church is ready to confront Mugabe, but when I say confront I am not talking about violence.
“When the prophets confronted the king, they did not hold swords. It’s simply prophetic confrontation. The church is ready to do that. All what we need to do is to harness and coordinate that prophetic voice,” Magaya said.
He emphasised that while Zimbabweans should remain peaceful, they should not be docile, but must resist all forms of oppression.
“What I am saying right now is something that I can never reverse even in the courts of law. It is in the public domain (Mugabe’s failures). If I were given an opportunity to meet Mugabe I will tell him exactly what I am saying right now.
“I believe that when one approaches the complex monster of dictatorship, one can never prescribe one approach. Yes, we do recognise diplomatic engagements which are very important.
“But I also believe that confrontation cannot be ruled out as long as it is not violent. We need to use all methods to make sure that this machinery is dismantled,” Magaya said.
Speaking while commemorating the UN Convention against Torture, Magaya also said Zanu PF had started to intimidate people ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
“People must not dread elections, but our history as a nation is that fear and consternation grip us when elections come. Why?
“This is because those in power especially, use violence and torture to intimidate the electorate and this has already started to unfold almost two years away from 2018. Shame on all the perpetrators of violence,” he said.
Magaya’s sentiments come after other churches recently called on Mugabe to resign, including the influential Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC).
Meanwhile, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general, Raymond Majongwe, said yesterday that the government was lying that it was broke, as it could afford to pay the army and military their full salaries.
He said the government was being “selective” in its treatment of its workers, warning that could prove disastrous in the long run, including facing a likely stay-away.
“The action will mean withdrawal of our labour. We learnt from the war veterans that if you want anything from government use your feet, run on the street, get arrested and get beaten.
“If that is what government wants us to do, the flesh is here, ready to be beaten. We are not just fighting and making unnecessary noise, but are demanding what is legitimately ours.
“Any workers who do not stand up to fight for their cause will only have themselves to blame, because we are talking of a government that knows how to consume money by buying expensive vehicles, staying in hotels and flying all over the world,” Majongwe thundered.
He said if the government was sincere about paying them their salaries, they should borrow the money for this purpose.
“Government should understand that we cannot survive on piece-meal offers. The money they want to give us will have deductions incurred through the withdrawal process. Government is also setting a dangerous precedence.
“Once we are told the June salaries will be paid in July and so forth we may actually end up having three months of unpaid work. Many companies and parastatals such as National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Grain Marketing Board collapsed because workers were promised their salaries in such a way,” Majongwe said.
Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president, Obet Masaraure, said the government wanted workers to report for duty without it looking after their welfare.
He said the government knew very well that workers’ monthly obligations such as rentals could not be deferred to another month.
“We reject this callous move and we are calling on all affected workers to sit-in with us in protest, at the ministry of Finance’s offices in Harare on the 1st of July. We will protest until our salaries are paid in full, failure of which we will call for our members to engage in a massive nationwide strike,” he said.
Apex council chairperson Cecelia Alexander said the government should not hold the union accountable for what its members could decide to do.
“Government makes it hard for us to believe them because they are not upfront with their issues. We just speak on behalf of our constituency and whatever they decide will prevail.
“Hutsi hweteargas hukanga hwatosvora ticharamba takasvinura nekuti ndizvo zvatakazvipira (We are prepared to be choked by police teargas as we are determined to get our money),” Alexander said.
Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers Union president, George Mushipe, said even prior to last Monday’s meeting between the government and civil service union representatives, pay slips with the July date had already started circulating without consultations.
He said it was in that light that they felt that talk of workshops and regular consultation between the employer and the employee was just “academic jargon to silence the workers”.
“We need a living salary because we have expenses. Demonstrating is outlying anger at what government is doing to its dedicated workers. This is not the time for workshops while our families are starving. Workshop talk is a ploy to divert our attention from real issues,” Mushipe said.