PASTOR Tom Deuschle of Hear the Word Ministries, recently criticised for giving President Robert Mugabe a $30 million gift, believes his gesture has opened avenues for national dialogue and led
Mugabe to admit failure.
The barrage of criticism came from Zimbabweans both at home and abroad following a report in the Zimbabwe Independent in January on the money raised by the church in Harare to give to Mugabe as a present.
Deuschle led a delegation of 20 members of his church a fortnight ago to present the gift to the Zanu PF leader. Deuschle sounded confident in an interview on Wednesday that his church’s gesture, which he says has already been embraced by other church leaders in the country, would lead to national dialogue.
“The country is polarised,” he said. “We have a serious crisis. As a church we should help bring peace in Zimbabwe,” said Deuschle.
“By giving the gift to the president we didn’t mean to endorse his policies but to engage him in dialogue. It is unprecedented (the gift) in this country and the president acknowledged that. He publicly admitted that his government had failed on the economy, the land reform and other national issues. That is a major disclosure and confession by the head of state and we can now move on from there.”
Deuschle, whose church constructed a state of the art complex – Celebration Centre – in the affluent suburb of Borrowdale, said after Mugabe’s admission, his delegation made it clear to him that a leader who ignored God’s ways was doomed to fail.
“We made it clear to the head of state that any family head or government that disobeys God’s ways in its policies would fail and that is the situation Zimbabwe finds itself in. But the question is how to move on from there. Must we continue demonising each other?”
After presenting the gift to Mugabe, Deuschle said, his church has been engaging other church leaders to create dialogue at a national level that includes the government, the opposition MDC and civil society.
“We have had many meetings with church leaders in Harare and Bulawayo such as Archbishop (Pius) Ncube (of the Catholic Church Bulawayo Diocese). We are trying to initiate dialogue in the country. There has been a mixed response to our approach from members of society but we will do our best to bring peace in this country,” he said.
“Basically Mugabe said that the church should be the ears and eyes of the nation. He urged us to co-ordinate with our colleagues and play a major role in bringing peace and restoring prosperity to the country through dialogue,” Deuschle said.