Responding to the Call for a National Sabbath for Trust and Confidence Building

The Platform for Concerned Citizens (PCC) congratulates the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHoCD) for its timely intervention in the deepening crisis that afflicts our country. This follows the equally important statement that the ZHoCD issued in 2015, as well as the founding document in 2006. The current statement indicates the continuing concerns of the churches for the plight of the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe, and poses a way forward out of the crisis.

The criticisms assist in highlighting the deep distrust of both the state and the political parties and the weariness of all citizens to the escalating and unresolved multifaceted crisis. Firstly, the analysis of the crisis centred on the adverse effects of the economic collapse, the political paralysis unresolved through successive elections, and the deep unhealed wounds of political violence are likely acceptable by the majority of the citizens. Secondly, careful reading of the document reveals the major thrust, the ZHoCD proposed transitional arrangements to resolve the national situation.

The steps and goals for such an arrangement are stated clearly:

(a) establishing an emergency recovery mechanism to address the dire national situation, especially for the most vulnerable communities;
(b) rebuilding trust and confidence by healing all the hurts of the past;
(c) developing a shared national reform agenda to deepen our democracy;
(d) establishing a shared and inclusive national economic vision.

The PCC is certain these are goals that resonate with most Zimbabweans. The PCC has been advocating for these goals, through a National Transitional Authority arrangement, since 2016 in protracted attempts to develop a soft landing for Zimbabwe. Thus, it is of concern that the critics focus mostly on the period of a transitional arrangement, the suspension of elections, constitutionality, and the suggestion of a referendum. These are not trivial issues, but are secondary to the acceptance that only a transitional arrangement can resolve the problems the country faces. Acceptance of a transitional solution leads logically to the suspension of elections until the transitional period is complete, the reforms necessary to addressing the four goals above are complete, and the country is in a state of stability in which bona fide elections can take place, free of political interference by the “captured state”.

The process of developing an NTA is a matter for discussion, and the ZHoCD statement is not prescriptive. The PCC strongly supports the rationale of the ZHoCD for a process to develop a national solution for a national crisis. Thus, the PCC wishes to support and amplify the statement, and re-iterate our previous position:

  • A National Dialogue with all the major church, civil society, labour, women, and youth organisations;
  • Internationally mediated talks between the two major political forces in the country, with a neutral mediator.
    In this process, the following will be critical to a positive outcome:
  • A Political and Economic Reform Agenda: the restoration of constitutional rule;
  • The restoration of National institutions, including the return of the soldiers to the barracks, reform of the public service, and the restoration of independence in the judiciary;
  • Regional and International Scaffolding in the form of an International Rescue Plan; namely, the establishment of a US$10 billion Sovereign/Rescue Fund, to be held in London or New York, but with the objective of stabilizing the economy, engendering international confidence and investment, and securing a national currency;
  • A Social Development Fund: to attend to the urgent needs in education and healthcare; revival of agriculture, industry, and employment creation; and the establishment of programmes designed to rescue the population from the scourge of poverty, as well as the re-institution of rural development;
  • The engagement of the Diaspora, as both investors (in such programmes as the privatisation of parastatals) and joint venture partners with external factors

We offer these views as complementary to the position outlined by the ZHoCD. We believe that the way forward is to engage soberly with the ZHoCD position, to discuss the development of a common civil society position, to develop a broad national response to the crisis, and to ensure that the voice of the Zimbabwean citizen is central to the solution.

We must be very clear that simple rejection of the ONLY suggestion for a solution to the country’s crisis will lead to either an elite pact, or another stolen election, and the continuance of the suffering of the ordinary Zimbabwean.

Source: Platform for Concerned Citizens (PCC)