Mugabe rejects call to prayer

President Robert Mugabe this week shot down a suggestion to pray in Cabinet meetings, according to highly placed official sources. The suggestion was made by ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa, who reportedly said Cabinet could not have good judgment if it didn't have faith.

Mugabe: using religion as a political campaign tool.
Mugabe: using religion as a political campaign tool.

Sources said the youthful MDC-T minister called on his fellow ministers to pray to God and be guided by religious values in carrying out their public duties.

But Mugabe, who claims to be a practising Catholic, reportedly took great exception to the request, which he misconstrued as a personal attack.

For some time now, Zanu (PF) has been using religion as a political campaign tool, with Mugabe himself donning white Apostolic garb and appearing at the sect’s meetings holding a shepherd’s crook.

His refusal to pray comes amid the increasing use of faith as an issue in the 2012/3 general election campaign. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party says it has a God-fearing leadership and opens its meetings and rallies with prayer.

International Relations minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga backed Chamisa’s motion, as Mugabe defended his refusal to pray ostensibly because Cabinet was religiously cosmopolitan with Moslems, Christians, traditionalists and so on.

"He asked 'how will we pray or who will we pray to?'," said our source. Misihairabwi-Mushonga argued that Parliament prayed before resuming business and Cabinet must follow suit.

"She said there was no reason why Cabinet should not pray also," said our source, a minister speaking during an off-the-record briefing.

He said there was stunned silence, before Mugabe grilled Chamisa. "Chamisa what are you trying to say? Uri mupostori here? (Are you a member of Apostolic sect?)"

Efforts to obtain confirmation and clarification this week from Chamisa were futile. He was said to have travelled to Switzerland for the ITU telecommunications world conference.

Senior ministers, including Patrick Chinamasa and John Nkomo, regularly kneel while greeting the veteran president, according to Cabinet sources.

Zanu (PF) ministers all stand-up when the old man enters the room, but they don't for Tsvangirai.

Mugabe is on record saying he was aware that those who wanted to succeed him in Zanu (PF) were consulting witchdoctors.

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