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Mutsvangwa sparks outrage over tribal attack on 'evil' bishop

by Staff reporter
17 Aug 2020 at 07:18hrs | Views
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa sparked outrage on Sunday over a tribally-charged attack on Catholic bishops who criticised a government crackdown on dissent.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference, in a pastoral letter on Saturday, said Zimbabwe faced a multi-layered crisis, including economic collapse, deepening poverty, corruption and human rights abuses.

"Fear runs down the spine of many of our people today. The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented," the bishops said in the letter, read out at Catholic churches on Sunday.

"Is this the Zimbabwe we want? To have a different opinion does not mean to be an enemy."

The country is carrying "past hurts like Gukurahundi which continue to spawn even more angry new generations", the bishops added.

The reference to Gukurahundi, the 1980s massacres carried out by the army in southwestern Zimbabwe, drew a surprising response from Mutsvangwa who bizarrely accused the bishops of "trumpeting petty tribal feuds and narrow regionalist agendas" to "sow seeds of internecine strife as a prelude to national disintegration."

She singled out Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, the head of the bishops conference, accusing him of trying to stoke a "Rwanda-type genocide".

"With nefarious cynicism to history, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu is inching to lead the Zimbabwe Catholic congregation into the darkest dungeons of Rwanda-type genocide," Mutsvangwa said in a statement.

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa defended the bishops, saying the church was a "moral compass, conscience guardians" who must "speak truth to power in any society."

"The government's vitriol and diatribe aimed at the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference position on the current political and economic instability is evidence that Zimbabwe is indeed in turmoil," Chamisa said on Twitter.

His deputy, Welshman Ncube, added: "I have read and reread the government of Zimbabwe's response to the Catholic Bishops' pastoral letter and remain beyond shock that there is a government on earth in the 21st century that can release this kind of hurtful drivel as an official government statement. God help us!"

In a statement, the MDC Alliance said "we demand an apology and withdrawal of the unacceptable remarks."

In a four-page statement, Mutsvangwa said Archbishop Ndlovu wants to "posit as the leader of righteous Ndebele minority by fanning the psychosis of tribal victimisation."

"Concurrently, he sows seeds of collective guilt on the Shona majority," she charged, while also calling Ndlovu a "dyed in the wool coward" for not fighting in the 1980s independence war in which she said she took part.

The Zimbabwe Catholic Lawyers Guild, in a statement, called Mutsvangwa's comments "disgraceful".

"Without responding to the issues raised, the government issued a vicious attack on the bishops, regrettably calling the church's leadership ‘misguided and evil minded'. We note with concern the vicious tribal attack against Archbishop Ndlovu which must be condemned by all right-thinking people," the Catholic lawyers said.

They demanded an apology and retraction by Mutsvangwa, as well as "an assurance that no harm will befall the bishops on account of the pastoral letter."

On Sunday night, Mutsvangwa stood by her comments and appeared to rule out an apology.

"My statement invokes national unity of equal Zimbabwean citizens," she told the Voice of America's Studio 7.

Source - zimlive