RELIGIOUS groups affiliated to the Indigenous Interdenominational Council of Churches (IICC) on Monday begged for stands and funding from government to construct their own places of worship and ordered main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to endorse President Emmerson Mnangagwa publicly.

Andrew Wutaunashe, who was leading the IICC, pleaded with Mnangagwa to give the local churches support and match the funding that was received by mostly missionary churches like the Catholic, Anglican and Methodist when they set up in Zimbabwe.

“We seek two things, namely to bring this organisation to your awareness. We seek first of all that you take note of our request that we need you and your government to dignify indigenous churches,” he said.

“We are very grateful for the way you have listened to our voice and visited us, sometimes even under trees. But we are also saying that we would like government to take note that most of the churches, which are known as the traditional churches, were originally originating from foreign lands and Western-funded. Sometimes they make statements that represent where they come from.”

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IICC said most of its members were homeless and Mnangagwa’s intervention would bring dignity to their congregations who worship under trees, practising open defecation.

“We feel that now you are a President, whose eyes are open to the fact that you have got leadership of the church, which comes from the indigenous people. We appeal to you and your government to also find ways of affirming us, not only emotionally or by other statements, but also helping us to have infrastructure, land and other things so that these churches can have substance,” Wutaunashe said.

“We are cognisant of your exhortation that the churches should seek to have healthy practices, perhaps not to meet under trees and so forth, but it’s not enough to ask us not to meet under trees without helping us to have the infrastructure which others who were funded from abroad may have.”

The churches also asked government to disregard the calls by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), which voiced concern over the deteriorating social, political and economic situation in the country.

MDC national executive member and lawyer Fadzai Mahere was quick to take a dig at Wutaunashe, saying the pronouncements for the opposition to discard their call to have dialogue on Mnangagwa’s legitimacy was anchored on a desire to amass trinkets.

“I see this church talk is all about stands and buildings, not a word about principle or integrity. Selling out on values for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. Shameful,” she said.
Mnangagwa said he was going to listen more to the IICC because its leaders were local.

Meanwhile, MDC chairperson Thabita Khumalo has challenged Mnangagwa to deliver on his electoral promises and stop blaming Chamisa for his shortcomings.

“Firstly, Chamisa is not the president of the country. He’s the president of MDC. We are expecting deliverables from Mnangagwa because he won the election in the ConCourt. So he should deliver on the promises he made to the people than waste time blaming Chamisa,” she said.

“We want to hear when we are getting electricity. We can’t go for 18 hours without power. He should solve the issue of water. Above all, stop the victimisation of opposition MPs in Parliament and respect them and not to want to turn them into Zanu PF appendages.”