THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and local church leaders are making efforts to promote talks between the ruling Zanu PF and opposition MDC MPs, it was establ
ished this week.
Information at hand shows that the UNDP has held several workshops for clergymen aimed at finding ways of bringing the two parties’ legislators together for dialogue.
The church leaders, who were recently involved in efforts to bring Zanu PF and the MDC together for talks, would lead discussions between the two parties’ MPs.
Representatives from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ). and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) are participating in the conflict-resolution training programmes supervised by the UNDP.
Bishop Trevor Manhanga, the head of EFZ, confirmed yesterday that clergymen were being trained in conflict-resolution.
“Indeed, a number of our pastors are participating in the training programmes organised by the UNDP. There was also another programme held in Cape Town recently where we participated,” Manhanga said.
“This is coming at a time when we are in the midst of seeking solutions to the broader national political crisis. The UNDP effort would contribute towards the broader initiative.”
ZCBC head Bishop Patrick Mutume said the UNDP was training church leaders in handling political conflicts with the Zimbabwean issue in focus.
Sources in the UNDP said parliament, which has representatives of both parties, could play a key role in brokering a deal to end the crippling political crisis.
“Contrary to what most people have been made to believe that the solution lies with President Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the UNDP believes the focus must be broader,” said a UNDP official.
“The workshop for MPs held last month was a huge success in that both sides agreed to negotiate for a settlement at parliamentary level.”
The UNDP is hard-pressed to secure a political deal in Zimbabwe before going to the donor community requesting humanitarian assistance desperately needed by Harare to get out of this crisis. Sources said that time was running out for the UNDP in Harare to deliver something tangible before the donors’ conference in New York next month.
Harare has submitted requests for 600 000 tonnes of food aid, a large consignment of medicines, as well as $885 billion for the revival of the agricultural sector.
The donor community, predominantly made up of Western countries, is reported to have expressed reluctance to bail out Harare due to the political stalemate.