AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Vice President poisoned. Tension increases. The Bishops: "No to violence"

Friday, 6 October 2017 elections   bishops  

Harare (Agenzia Fides) – Tension increases in Zimbabwe after the announcement that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was poisoned. Mnangagwa fell ill in August and was hospitalized in South Africa, where doctors said he was victim of intentional poisoning and not food poisoning.
The governing Zanu-PF has been battling to contain tensions within the party between rival groups wanting to succeed President Robert Mugabe, 93. Mr Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe are seen as the frontrunners.
Presidential elections are scheduled in 2018 and should mark the end of the long reign of Mugabe in power since the 1980s. The battle is not only between his party and opposition, but also within the governmental community.
In view of next year's election, Catholic Bishops have appealed for "acceptance of one another and respect for different opinions. We all know that this election will, like the others, be contested by people different from us and holding different views. This is not a threat to peace and democracy but rather the very life blood of it", provided that this is done in mutual respect. "Intolerance of each other will block our progress", the Bishops write in their Pastoral Letter sent to Agenzia Fides.
The hope is that "in the pre-election period all parties have access to the media so that there is a healthy public debate on the issues that affect us today".
The Bishops also point out that the Constitution is the shield that protects citizens from the use of power. "During the liberation war of the Country from colonialism, we had no Constitution to protect us and so some of us took to arms. Today we have a Constitution. There is no need for weapons".
The Pastoral Letter hopes that the people will be able to choose leaders who demonstrate their abilities "not with words, but with facts and who really work really for the common good". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/10/2017)