The Catholic Church has called on young politicians to use the ‘gift of speech’, to communicate, dialogue and find practical solutions for a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Addressing young people attending the Political Parties Youth Dialogue recently in Harare, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference (ZCBC) Secretary General, Fr Fradereck Chiromba said ‘if God cares to enter into dialogue’ with his creation, who are we not to dialogue among ourselves.
The Bishops’ Conference through the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and in partnership with the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) convened two meetings for youths in politics in a bid to promote an inclusive national dialogue and creating a participating space for all stakeholders.
The dialogue is part of the Church’s ongoing effort to promote national dialogue to solve Zimbabwe’s continuous political and economic woes.
A focus on Youths in nation building
Speaking after the dialogue, ZCBC Secretary General, Fr Frederick Chiromba said as the heads of Christian denominations have gone back to the drawing board and before there is a national convention, there should be at least bilateral engagements at lower levels, hence the youth dialogue.
“While dialogue must happen at different levels, the youths are a key group and this is an opportunity for the nation to engage youths in nation building,” said Fr Chiromba.
“This particular dialogue focused on youths in politics, but it’s not only these that must be engaged, we must look beyond racial lines and politics and engage all youths. It must be multifaceted,” he added.
Young politicians respond
Commenting on the young people’s dialogue, newly elected Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary General, Gift Ostallos Siziba said it is ideal for the young people to dialogue and interact and decide on the Zimbabwe they want.
However he decried the involvement of some state actors in the dialogue who complicate the conduciveness of the environment.
“The idea is good and dialogue is key, but we must find something attractive, something not political that brings young people together to interact and discuss about the Zimbabwe we want,” said Gift.
“We need to find activities that are interactive, that neutralize the tension.”
ZANU PF youth leader, Lewis Matutu also echoed the sentiments saying there is need for more platforms for young people to discuss even non-political issues.
“It is a very noble idea, as long as it does not deviate from the national vision,” Lewis said..
“Dialogue is key among young people and we need more and more platforms for young people to discuss issues, even non-political matters; empowerment, healthcare, economic issues among others because politics is not the only matter affecting youths,” he added.
The participants of the workshop also resolved to continuously engage other stakeholders on matters around a ‘corruption free environment, unemployment and for their voice to be heard’ in policy making.
The meeting also called on the Church to be ‘proactive and play a leading role in facilitating peace and dialogue amongst the citizens.’
The Church’s goal
Fr Chiromba reiterated that the Church’s goal is to promote reconciliation, national coercion, and a common vision moving forward, hence the launch of the national dialogue framework at the National Prayer Breakfast Meeting held on 7 February 2019.
He said dialogue may not be the ultimate solution for the crisis the country is facing but the cohesion will help resolve some of the challenges.
The Catholic Church, Fr Chiromba highlighted, has sought the services of its professional members, largely through the Catholic Professionals Network to help in research and professional advice on various matters regarding the church’s effort in the dialogue framework.
While the country is grappling with how the national dialogue must be conducted and if it will actually bear fruit in solving the crises, the Political Actors Dialogue convened by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has faced major drawbacks with four presidential candidates pulling out.
The Newsday, a national newspaper, reported in March this year that ‘Alliance for the People’s Agenda (APA), led by Nkosana Moyo Moyo’ became ‘the fourth principal’ to pullout of the talks citing ‘insincerity’ on the part of the President.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa never joined the talks. People’s Rainbow Coalition leader Joice Mujuru, Build Zimbabwe leader Noah Manyika and United Democratic Alliance leader Daniel Shumba, also pulled out of POLAD.