HARARE – The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has called for “honest and inclusive dialogue” after August 23’s disputed elections.
The ZCC, representing most of the country’s traditional churches, said whilst the elections were held in relative peace, the elections were “characterised by significant flaws.”
“The church expresses its disappointment in that though the elections were soaked in prayer resulting in peace, tolerance and restraint, they fell significantly short of the elections we wanted and prayed for as they have once again produced a contested presidential result,” the ZCCC said in a statement.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner with 52.6 percent of the vote, with challenger Nelson Chamisa polling 44 percent, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Regional and international observer missions said the election failed to meet the standards of democratic elections, while Chamisa has demanded fresh elections.
The ZCC flagged the late delivery of ballot papers to opposition strongholds and the activities of the Forever Association of Zimbabwe, a Zanu PF-affiliated group which set up desks near polling stations purportedly to conduct “exit polls.”
“The exit poll that was allegedly led by the organisation resulted in widespread intimidation of voters since it involved the taking down of voters’ personal details,” the ZCC said.
“Voters also faced challenges due to coercion, missing names in the voters roll, electoral disinformation and intimidation of voters especially in rural areas.”
The churches called on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission “to be fully transparent and release results that are verifiable and auditable.”
“This is not only important because it is mandated by law, but it enhances people’s trust and confidence in elected leaders and is essential in building unity, love and peace as we all seek to work together for the betterment of our country.”
The ZCC said the results showed that Zimbabweans are “deeply divided” and called for “urgent redress through a holistic process of nation building and envisioning.”
The churches added: “As the church, being cognizant of the deep divisions and polarity the elections have created, and the desire of Zimbabweans for peace, and the need for unity, the ZCC reiterates its call for honest and inclusive dialogue and engagement towards establishing a firm foundation for the transformation of our country.”
The ZCC said it would engage the country’s political leadership “seeking to build a better Zimbabwe through dialogue, engagement and national reimagination.”
Churches under the ZCC include the Roman Catholic Church, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of Africa, Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Salvation Army.