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July 31 anti-Mnangagwa protests: Churches step in

LEADERS of Christian denominations under the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) have said they will today meet the country's main political leaders to enable them to find common ground in a move meant to forestall anti-government protests planned for July 31.

ZCC secretary-general Kenneth Mtata yesterday said the closed-door meeting would take place at an undisclosed venue this morning.

"The meeting between church leaders and politicians is set for Monday (today) and will be closed to the public and the media. After the meeting, the outcome will be shared with the public," he said yesterday.

Mtata said only a round-table discussion would save lives, the economy and allow Zimbabwe to move on without scars.

"If people are not listened to, they will find an outlet to express their anger and at times that road is not what we want. Leaders should sit down and do what's good for the nation," he said.

Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president Never Muparutsa said: "I am calling the nation to pray for the deteriorating economy and general lack of stewardship on God-given natural resources."

The church is trying to dissuade citizens from participating in the protests after Defence deputy minister and Zanu-PF secretary of the commissariat Victor Matemadanda threatened to unleash security forces on the protesters.

Zanu-PF on Friday threatened to brutally quash the protests, reminding citizens of the bloody January 2019 fuel protests.

Mnangagwa's government also hinted that lockdown measures were set to be tightened in what observers say was a ploy to scuttle the planned protests against the deteriorating economic situation.

But protests organiser Jacob Ngarivhume, who is Transform Zimbabwe leader, and MDC Alliance youths yesterday vowed to stand up against police brutality.

"If we don't speak out, we die. If we speak out, we die. The only option we have is to stand up and speak out against corruption, which has pulverised our nation.

This message is going to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to say to him ‘if you have failed to deal with corruption, you must go' ... all indications are that he has failed," Ngarivhume said.

Chamisa has backed the July 31 demonstrations regardless of the chilling warnings from the State.

The MDC Alliance has also indicated its willingness to engage Mnangagwa outside the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), with the negotiations mediated by a foreign mediator and on neutral ground.

Mnangagwa, on the other hand, has insisted that he would only entertain dialogue held under Polad.

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