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Mixed feelings over CCC asking aspiring candidates to declare loyalty to “The Creator”

There are mixed feelings from the public surrounding the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)’s “Candidate Credentials and Track Record Form” dubbed CS100D asking aspiring candidates to declare loyalty to “The Creator”.

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday made public the form which is being used to process applications by aspiring election candidates.

On page 3, the form demands that the applicant should “Provide details of your proven loyalty to: Citizens/Citizens Movement, Country and The Creator”.

Critics have accused the party of not being inclusive by seemingly failing to accommodate people of other religions by stating that a candidate was supposed to be loyal to “The Creator”. They suggested that the party should have left that part open in order to facilitate people from other religious institutions.

General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) Reverend Kenneth Mtata said that religious loyalty does not make one a competent politician, just as the lack of religious loyalty does not make one a bad politician.

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Accordingly, the prominent pastor advised CCC not to make it a requirement that a candidate needed to be loyal to “The Creator”.

“There is some discontent among some Zimbabweans today because Citizen Coalition for Change CCC, asked its aspiring candidates to declare their loyalty to the party, country and to ‘The Creator’ (section 2.8 of the Credentials and Track record Form CS100D),” he said.

“My contribution to this debate as both a theologian and pastor committed to the role of the church in the public sphere is inspired by the awareness that without adequate nuance, the role of religion in the political sphere can become a huge problem, as we recently witnessed.

“Religious loyalty for example, does not make one a competent politician, just as the lack of religious loyalty does not make one a bad politician. Ethics in the public sphere cannot be derived only from religious loyalties.

“This guff is indicative of the deep policy and ideological deficiencies the CCC will need to address if it is going to be a credible alternative to the ruling party.

“I hope this contribution is taken for what it is; a desire to contribute to a healthy and vibrant multi-party democracy that aims at a peaceful, united, just and prosperous Zimbabwe!”

Pro-democracy activist Makomborero Haruzivishe, however, came to the CCC defence saying that the Constitution of Zimbabwe voted by people recognises that the” Almighty God” exists.

“So in the 2013 Constitutional Referendum 3,079,966 Zimbabweans voted YES (that is 94,49% of those who participated) for a constitution that has ‘Almighty God’ mentioned twice in the PREAMBLE.

“In the Zimbabwean national anthem, we twice ask the Almighty to bless our land and we also beseech God to bless our native land.

“All meetings, be they burial society, political rallies, community events (weddings, funerals, nhimbe, mugwazo etc) or even in schools, we pray to our CREATOR for guidance.

“In courts, we hold the Bible and swear to the CREATOR before testifying. That is the law of Zimbabwe. Refusal is contempt of court which can result in a custodial punishment.

“All government officials; councillors, members of parliament, senators, ministers, the president; hold the Bible and swear to God their oath of office,” he said.

But prominent student leader Nancy Njenge asked how one could ‘prove loyalty to the Creator’ in a form.

She asked: “…….. However, I think it’s inappropriate to make it a requirement to ‘prove loyalty to the Creator’. How? And how is that inclusive of all citizens, atheists included?”

Economist Henry Jaji also defended the main opposition party and said:

“The CCC candidate vetting form has a section that emphasizes “loyalty to the creator” and this has sparked some debate. While it’s crucial to respect diverse beliefs, including atheism, we need to consider the broader context.

“Zimbabwe is a nation of rich cultural and religious diversity, with a vast majority (~97%) of its citizens identifying with some form of faith, as per the 2022 Census report. (Source: Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency). This means that for many Zimbabweans, spirituality is a vital aspect of life.”

He added that, rather than interpreting the CCC’s form as discriminatory or imposing religious beliefs, one has to see it as a reflection of a widely-held cultural value.

“This doesn’t diminish the importance of secularism in politics, but it acknowledges the context in which our political systems exist. The CCC, like any political party, has the right to establish core principles that resonate with its target demographic.

“In addition, when the phrase is viewed in a broader context, it is not merely about religious beliefs, but rather about upholding moral and ethical principles that benefit society as a whole. Demonstrating loyalty can take various forms, such as advocating for social justice, caring for the environment, and promoting equality.

“Whilst remembering that the CCC is an entity that seeks to represent the aspirations of many Zimbabweans (majority of them identifying with some sort of faith), let’s focus on nurturing shared values and unity, transcending religious boundaries and embracing our collective humanity. Together, we can make a difference for the common good,” Jaji said.

CCC aspiring MP for Kuwadzana East Chalton Hwende said he was confident God will deliver the opposition come elections later this year.

“The CCC is a movement that is created by God fearing citizens for God Fearing Citizens. We see you laughing at #Godisinit !! Continue laughing but the Creator will deliver State House in 2023 #Handeitione,” he posted on his Twitter handle.