Here he speaks with Daily News Senior Assistant Editor Guthrie Munyuki and below are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: You recently came out speaking strongly against the economic and political situation in the country, what is your position as a church?
A: The position of the Church is quite clear that you cannot separate the socio-economic landscape within this nation from the political landscape.
It’s very clear even if you look into the word of God, into the book of Isaiah that each time the political leaders would have failed God or moved away from God the consequences would obviously be the collapse of the economy.
Somewhere in the book of Isaiah the Bible makes reference to the fact that unless you repent, your silver and your gold shall be rubbish.
So this is exactly what we are saying. The fact that there is that inextricable link between the collapse of the economy and the politics of the nation and so as a Church we are concerned that the leaders of this nation are responsible for the economic collapse. That is very clear.
Q: Your critics say you should concentrate on uniting the country not to dabble in politics and say your stance is like that of an opposition party, how do you react to that?
A: It is not the right thing to say. The Church has not joined forces or hands with the opposition.
If anything, it is actually the opposition that is identifying with that which is right. A look into the word of God will show that the ancient prophets were not quiet during the times of national crises.
You will discover that you have your Jeremiahs and your Isaiahs.
Isaiah 58 states “Rise up walk into the streets and shout to my people against their rebelliousness.”
Ezekiel 45 verse 9 says “You princes of Israel, you leaders, you have gone too far in dispossessing my people; stop violence!”
So, these are prophets that spoke with clarity rebuking the national leaders of the day. So there is no way that the Church can be quiet when things are going wrong like this.
If the Church remains quite it means that the increasingly restive populace will continue and likelihood is that there is gonna be an explosion.
And we are calling upon the government to actually respond and be able to call for national dialogue with stakeholders.
It is very important and very necessary for me to highlight the fact that the Church has got two sorts of approaches to this whole matter.
There is what we call a diplomatic engagement on the part of the Church and that is also biblical. Because you remember Nathan approached David when he had killed Uriah as a result of him having taken Uriah’s wife.
Nathan went diplomatically; he did not shout from the streets but his diplomatic engagement was very clear resulting in David having to repent.
In other words, when Nathan went to see David he did not change the subject and begin to talk about David having killed Uriah because at the time David had killed a citizen. That is diplomatic engagement.
But the other side of advocacy is also confrontational.
When Amos says in Chapter 4 verse 1 “You cows of Bashan have slept on ivory beds and applied fine lotions to your bodies, slept in expensive houses and yet you have disregarded the poverty of Joseph,” that is confrontational.
As a Church we adopt both. There are some of us that are specialist in diplomacy and there are some of us that are more confrontational.
Both do work and both are biblical. So, my critics are simply exposing their ignorance of the word of God and they don’t qualify to prescribe how the Church should really operate.
Q: The Church has been very clear that President Robert Mugabe should retire but why would you want him to retire when he was given the mandate in 2013 to lead until the next election, in 2018?
A: There are several things to that. Firstly I wouldn’t really want to go into — the disputable nature of the 2013 elections and also I would want you to remember that … Mugabe clearly lost an election in 2008 but he insisted he wanted to rule.
So, the fact he was voted for as it looks like cannot be justification because he has always at some point, suffered defeat and yet he held on to power.
And secondly, Mugabe is now 92 years-old. He has totally lost control of the situation. He cannot control even his party.
Zanu PF is rocked, there are schisms within the party and he is really failing to put his party together let alone to really govern this particular nation. Thirdly, but also our Constitution that was overwhelmingly voted for is richly endowed with Bills of rights some which are social and economic rights.
And people have really suffered to abysmal levels and it is the governments responsibility to make sure that people economic and social rights are valued and are upheld but Mugabe and his government have failed in that regard.
Fourthly, Mugabe and his government have for many years been emphasising the importance of State security without putting equal emphasis on the security of persons and from the church’s point of view we argue and we put this forward very, very clearly that it’s not only the State that needs security; people also need security. Itai Dzamara is still missing and we have been talking about that.
And if you have a government that cannot guarantee people security then that government becomes good for nothing.
And we insist that they have served their years and they should go. I have said at some point that the strength of Mugabe is that of fighting.
God works in epochs and in dispensation. We are not in the Davidic era of fighting. We are in the Solomonic era of building and Mugabe does not have an iota of anointing with regards to development that is the reason why no matter how many economic blueprints they come up with, they cannot make it.
He should simply pave way for somebody that has got a clear source of justice agenda from God’s heart.
Q: Suppose he retires before 2018, what role can the Church play in making sure that there is a peaceful transition?
A: What we think is that there should be a stakeholders’ conference. In fact we are proposing that this happens right now as a part of a process of persuading him to retire.
Where we have a National Transitional Authority, in my opinion, I think led by people who have no interest in politics. People that do not have ambitions to contest in 2018 elections but somebody maybe from business, Church in particular, to be able lead that transition.
Then the responsibility of the Church in particular, would be to cast a national vision which includes making sure that the political landscape is levelled, making sure that the economy is restored and also making sure that there is peace and stability.
I am insistent that this transition has to be led by those that do not have political ambitions.
Q: We have seen riots and demonstrations in the country in recent months, what is the significance of these acts?
A: The significance of this is many fold. Number one; you cannot continually and permanently successfully suppress people forever. It is not possible. The people have suffered enough. I have made reference to a restive populace.
People are left with no option but to protest. Secondly, there is no darkness that does not end with dawn.
I believe very strongly that this is a clearest indication of the fact that we are nearer than ever before.
The new epoch might not come in a very short time that we might expect. If it happens thank God because God is able to do far more exceedingly abundant above what we hope for.
If that happens we are happy. So, it might not be as short we think but certainly it is not as long as we have had. So this is very clearly indicative that we are crossing over. You can never stop an idea whose time has come.
The government has no option but to facilitate national dialogue because if that is not going to happen I can tell you that the consequences would be too ghastly to contemplate.
Q: Do you retain hope that there will be peaceful resolution to the current crisis?
A: Yes hope keeps us going but I am also aware that Zanu PF is not an easily beatable institution. Even if they have been defeated they don’t accept.
That’s the nature of the dictator. So despite the appearance of being in control, get me right, things are not right and I do sense from the depth of my heart there is decay within the roots of the old political system and what remains is the tragic collapse of that huge tree.
So, yes I have got hope that there will be a peaceful solution. I do plead with the government that they should desist from showing a brutal show of force; they should not be excessive in their dealing with these protests.
Investigate and find out what it is that people want.
Q: Is it a problem of Mugabe having overstayed or Mugabe and Zanu PF?
A: In my opinion it’s both. You cannot separate right now Zanu PF from Mugabe neither can you separate Mugabe from Zanu PF.
There is a way in which Mugabe’s long stay has resulted in this. Mugabe as an individual is problematic but also Zanu PF an institution has no capacity to repent. Remember what the war veterans said, they made reference to bloodshed if (Emmerson) Mnangagwa does not succeed Mugabe.
That is one side of it. And in response to that Mugabe has reminded them of Gukurahundi.
There are too sides of the same coin. They have long stayed. In my opinion Zanu PF should be forced to go on an indefinite leave. I believe that given an environment of free and fair elections Zanu PF is going to be sent into that indefinite leave.