PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday begged thousands of members of the Apostolic Sect to vote for him in this month’s make-or-break harmonised elections.
REPORT BY ELIAS MLAMBO & OUR CORRESPONDENT
Addressing several thousands members of Apostolic Sect at Mafararikwa Shrine in Marange, Mugabe, who was clad in white robes and holding a staff that is the trademark of the worshippers, promised to address problems faced by the worshippers.
Mugabe — who was accompanied by his wife Grace also clad in white robes — pledged to build a high school for members of the sect. The 89-year-old president urged the members to vote “wisely to safeguard the gains of independence.”
“Your plight is within my heart and we will ensure your wishes are fulfilled once Zanu PF is voted into government,” Mugabe said.
The Zanu PF leader took a swipe at the MDC formations accusing them of “representing the interests of the whites”.
Mugabe, a devout Catholic, slammed white-controlled churches saying they promoted homosexuality.
He repeated his statement that gays and lesbians were “worse than dogs”.
Mugabe said he was surprised that US President, Barack Obama advocated for the rights of homosexuals.
“I am surprised that Obama says gays should have rights, what rights? It is totally against our culture and this demeans us because we don’t associate with such people, I feel pity for our students scattered across borders as they copy these cultures,” he said.
Although church elders predicted a resounding victory for Zanu PF, ordinary church members who spoke to The Standard said they should not be forced to vote for the former ruling party.
“We have our own choices and we will not vote for people who failed to fulfil their promises during their tenure,” said one member who requested anonymity.
Another female member of the church said that for 33 years they have heard the same Zanu PF promises which have not been fulfilled.
Also present at the shrine were Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Information minister Webster Shamu, CIO boss Happison Bonyongwe and other senior Zanu PF officials.
Mugabe and Zanu PF’s election loss to the MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008 shook them and jolted them into action. Since then, Mugabe and Zanu PF are pulling out all the stops to mobilise voters.
The party has been trying hard to endear itself to churches.
The battle for the church vote on
The battle for the church vote is not new. in 2010 after MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was forced to cancel his scheduled visit to the Zion Christian Church Mbungo Shrine in Defe, Gokwe, after state security agents reportedly threatened and intimidated the church with unspecified action.
This year, Tsvangirai has also been on a religious crusade attending a series of “prayer for peace” rallies, mass prayer meetings mainly organised by the Zimbabwe National Pastors’ Conference, a grouping of mostly Pentecostal church leaders.
Early last year Vice-President Joice Mujuru visited Mafararikwa for the church’s ceremony where she addressed more thousands of people.
Mujuru was assured of more than a million votes. Whether this will materialise or not remains to be seen.
Since then, Mujuru, who is a member of the Salvation Army, has been criss-crossing the country addressing several indigenous church gatherings like the ZCC and the Vapostori sect.