ATTEMPTS by Zanu PF officials to scuttle a church-led initiative to kick-start talks with the opposition MDC have been dismissed as futile posturing that will not alter the
current course of events.
State media yesterday quoted Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa as accusing church mediators, Reverend Sebastian Bakare and Reverend Manhanga, of being MDC supporters.
“Their interest is out of self-interest. They are MDC activists wearing religious collars,” the Herald reported Chinamasa as saying.
In an interview yesterday Reverend Manhanga of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe said the church was focused on the talks and would not be distracted by Chinamasa’s comments.
“We are not members of the opposition,” said Rev Manhanga. “We do not hold MDC cards. We had a fruitful meeting with the president (Robert Mugabe) and we do not want to get involved in the minister’s politicking,” said Manhanga.
“We will be proved true with time. I and my colleague (Bakare) are not going to respond to that innuendo in the media.”
The two clergymen were part of a team that met President Mugabe last Friday, and the MDC leadership on Monday.
Chinamasa’s remarks came amid reports yesterday that Information minister Jonathan Moyo would not be part of the Zanu PF delegation to the talks with the MDC.
Sources told this paper that the MDC demanded that Moyo, who was part of the ruling party’s delegation to last year’s failed talks, be excluded because of his desire to see the impasse persist.
Zanu PF legal affairs secretary Chinamasa and information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira will lead the delegation that will also comprise national chairman John Nkomo.
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube confirmed yesterday he would lead his party’s team, which will also include two advisors.
“The team has not changed. I will be leading the delegation that also comprises my deputy Gift Chimanikire, Tichaona Mudzingwa and Lucia Matibenga,” said Ncube yesterday.
Chinamasa yesterday refused to comment on the composition of the Zanu PF delegation.
“I can’t comment on speculation,” he said.
He reiterated his attack on the church leaders involved in efforts to revive talks. “Bakare and Manhnga seem to be reporting to someone outside the country. Their activities speak volumes about them as being MDC.
However, we are committed to dialogue with the MDC but working with them is something else – it will depend on the outcome of the talks.”