Church leaders reveal details of Mugabe meeting

Loughty Dube



BISHOP Trevor Manhanga, who led a team of clerics to State House last month to meet President Mugabe, yesterday made telling disclosures of what transpired

at the meeting whose details have been largely kept under wraps.


At a meeting with Bulawayo church leaders in the city yesterday, Manhanga was pressed to reveal details of the meeting with Mugabe after the churchmen accused his team of being manipulated by the Zanu PF government.


Manhanga’s delegation of clergymen was in Bulawayo to drum up support for their initiative to promote dialogue with Mugabe.


At the meeting the church leaders voiced their concerns over the process by which members were consulted before the meeting with President Mugabe. They warned that the church should guard against being used by the ruling Zanu PF.


But Manhanga, who is head of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, defended the initiative and in the process narrated issues he discussed with Mugabe.


“It was a frank discussion contrary to what some people are saying,” Manhanga said. “The first issue raised by Pastor Gatsi at the meeting was that President Mugabe was surrounded by useless people.”


Mugabe admitted that there were some useless people in his cabinet, he said.


“Do you think anyone would have said that at State House (if they had been manipulated)?” he asked.


Manhanga also revealed that the clerics raised the issue of Operation Murambatsvina with Mugabe. He said the president concurred that the manner in which the exercise was carried out was flawed.


“We raised our concerns about Operation Murambatsvina and President Mugabe said he realised that the way the exercise was carried out was wrong,” Manhanga said.


He said Mugabe admitted government should have consulted the church before Murambatsvina.


Manhanga said the church leaders told Mugabe that internal dialogue should take priority over attempts to build bridges with the British.


He said the other issues discussed at the meeting included corruption, inflation and the need for constitutional reform.


Manhanga said Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and State Security minister Didymus Mutasa attended the meeting but did not make any contributions.


He told the Bulawayo clergymen that the reason he called for talks with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was not to implore the West to lift sanctions as reported. He said there were no sanctions against Zimbabwe but targeted sanctions against Zanu PF officials.


“Tsvangirai did not call for sanctions in the first place and he does not have the power to say drop sanctions,” he said.


The church leaders also raised the issue of Matabeleland atrocities. A local pastor, Lucky Moyo, said clerics should not be manipulated.


“As members of the church, we should be wary of being used and manipulated by politicians,” he said.

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