The Sunday Mail
Lincoln Towindo and Norman Muchemwa
The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe has mobilised thousands of its members to vote for President Emmerson in the 2018 harmonised elections.
Zimbabwe’s Muslim community numbers around 500 000, many of them naturalised citizens.
A good percentage of them have registered to vote, riding on a 2017 High Court ruling making naturalised citizens eligible to participate in national elections.
Yesterday, scores of SCIAZ members converged on Harare’s City Sports Centre to interface with Zimbabwe’s Presidency, represented by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi.
Council leader Sheikh Ishmail Duwa told the gathering: “We thank the Government of Zimbabwe for allowing ‘aliens’ to vote, the majority of whom are from the Muslim community.
“To date, we have registered 500 000 of our members to vote. As Muslims, we support Zanu-PF 100 percent because our policy is that we support the governing party and one which has people-oriented policies.”
VP Mohadi delivered President Mnangagwa’s address.
The President said, “My message to you today .. is that, as we move forward, we would like a Zimbabwe that is built on the pillars of peace, tolerance, love, forgiveness and unity as a firm foundation for development and an improved quality of life.
“Since I took office in November 2017 as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I have used every opportunity to preach the above message. I believe that this is the same message you preach everyday.
“As we approach the harmonised elections this year, I urge the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe to reach out to all Muslims with this message.
“In the same vein, I will soon meet my fellow leaders of political parties in Zimbabwe to emphasise the same message that all of us, as leaders, must actively shun violence, but exercise tolerance. I reiterate the incontrovertible fact that: ‘There is no need for violence’, as this is a new era.”
President Mnangagwa also said, “Turning to the nexus between religion and politics, I encourage religious institutions to preach the gospel of tolerance, love, peace and forgiveness.
“I am convinced that this is the ‘message of the season’ in our country, especially now as we draw towards the 2018 harmonised elections. While there may be some disagreements within and between our political parties, we should never allow our discourse to turn poisonous.
“As voters, therefore, we must reward those who seek dialogue and treat rivals and opponents with respect. Above all, let us always bear in mind that we are a family, and that what unites us as Zimbabweans is greater than anything that can divide us.”
The President said his Government was driven by the imperative of creating economic prosperity for all Zimbabweans. He implored the muslim community to take advantage of the country’s abundant investment opportunities.
“I must underscore the fact that the era of an inward-looking Zimbabwe is over. In the last three months, we have managed to attract a commitment of US$3 billion (plus US$4, 2 billion) worth of investment into the country.
“It is in this respect that, I call upon Muslim businesspeople from the region and further afield to invest in Zimbabwe. I wish to point out that real change takes time, and does not occur overnight.
“In spite of this, I have no doubt that, together, we will drive this great country to success by unlocking the vast potential reposing therein, and build a new, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe for all.
“Outsiders have always marvelled and testified to the fact that Zimbabweans are dynamic, hardworking, disciplined and entrepreneurial people. It is time we transformed these positive qualities into development and progress of our nation.”
Muslims in Zimbabwe representative Mufti Shuaib Asali thanked Government for promoting freedom of worship.
“We, the muslims appreciate the enabling atmosphere created by the government for a multi-religious and multi-cultural country where we can practice our religion freely.
“Indeed, Zimbabwe has had a symbiotic relationship with Islam since time immemorial. Muslim countries supported the armed struggle through training guerrillas and providing material and moral support.
“The astute diplomacy and shrewd statesmanship by the Government has seen Zimbabwe establish mutual and beneficial ties with countries from the Islamic world and fostering co-operation in various areas.”