Harare (New Ziana) –The government on Wednesday said it had resolved to summon the Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Zimbabwe to clarify issues raised by the Church’s local leadership in a pastoral letter last week.
In their letter, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference accused government of perpetrating human rights abuses, without providing any evidence.
Of particular concern to government, the Bishops said: “It is not clear to us as your Bishops that the national leadership that we have has the knowledge, social skill, emotional stability and social orientation to handle the issues we face as a nation.”
It is in light of that statement that Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said that the government would seek clarification from the Vatican whether this was now its official position on Zimbabwe and its leadership.
“In this regard, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Lt Gen S.B. Moyo will be meeting the Apostolic Nuncio, the diplomatic representative of the Holy See accredited to Zimbabwe,” he said.
“This statement constitutes an outright insult to the person of the President E.D Mnangagwa and his entire government and is couched in language decidedly unbecoming of an institution such as the Catholic Church.
“Given that the venerable Bishops represent the Catholic Church, government is compelled to directly engage the Vatican in order to ascertain whether or not such statements reflect the official attitude of the Holy See towards Zimbabwe’s leadership or whether these are views of the various individuals concerned.”
Ziyambi said government was disappointed with the manner the Bishops had decided to air their concerns instead of approaching government using existing diplomatic channels.
He condemned the stance taken by the Bishops and said instead of preaching unity and peace, the Bishops sought to further entrench the polarisation which already afflicts the country.
“That they have chosen this moment to add their voices to what has become a shrill, politically motivated cacophony masked as moral outrage on the basis of a deliberate misinterpretation of recent events in Zimbabwe is both regrettable and deeply disappointing,” he said.
“At no stage have the authors of the letter, either as individuals or as a collective, sought to engage the government on any level in order to gather an understanding of its position on any of the issues raised. The government notes that the Bishops have made a conscious decision to avoid direct engagement, opting instead for grandstanding and what amounts to politically motivated mudslinging.”
He added: “By allowing itself to be manipulated into joining what is so clearly a fabrication based on distortion, invention and outright falsehood, the Catholic church does itself injury and its followers a major disgrace.”
Ziyambi said although the Bishops had opted for a confrontational approach, government was willing to engage the Catholic Church and other religious communities in a cordial manner.
“Notwithstanding the deliberately provocative and divisive nature of the pastoral letter, the President’s commitment to the path of engagement with all religious communities remains steadfast and solid.
“With specific regard to the letter and with a view to preserving and maintaining long-standing cordial relations with the Catholic Church, government will avail itself of existing diplomatic channels to engage the church to more fully understand and appreciate the actions of its local representatives,” he said.
On the issues raised by the Bishops, Ziyambi said government was committed to fighting corruption and the President has demonstrated this by firing two Cabinet Minister over corruption allegations.
Their cases are currently before the courts.