Government to forge stronger ties with churches President Mnangagwa listens as Archbishop of Bulawayo Alex Thomas stresses a point yesterday in Kezi

Mashudu Netsianda, Deputy News Editor

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said the Government under the Second Republic will continue to work with churches and other progressive non-State entities towards modernising, industrialising and developing the country in line with Vision 2030.

He also paid tribute to the Roman Catholic Church for complementing Government efforts to develop the country and improve the people’s livelihoods.

Addressing Roman Catholic Church congregants during the centenary celebrations of St Joseph parish in Kezi, Matobo District in Matabeleland South yesterday, President Mnangagwa also hailed the church for its role during the country’s protracted liberation struggle and post-independence.

Part of the congregation at mass which was attended by President Mnangagwa at St Joseph’s Mission yesterday

“The constitutionally enshrined freedom of religion will be protected and guaranteed under the Zanu PF Government. Further, the Second Republic will continue to work with the church, other stakeholders and progressive non-State entities towards modernising, industrialising and developing our great motherland, Zimbabwe,” said President Mnangagwa.

“From Plumtree to Mutare, from Beitbridge to Chirundu, we are one people, united by one national flag and one national anthem.”

President Mnangagwa said his administration is committed to forging an inseparable relationship with the church community across the country.

“The long-standing relationship between Government and the Roman Catholic Church dates back since time immemorial and continues to endure across the areas of education, health, social protection and human development, among others. Siyabonga imisebenzi yenu,” he said.

For the past 100 years, St Joseph Mission has been rendering services to the people of Semokwe as well as the whole of Matobo District.

“On behalf of the people and Government of Zimbabwe, my family, and indeed on my own behalf, I heartily congratulate the Roman Catholic Church for this centenary of the St Joseph Mission. This 100 years of service to the Lord and the spiritual support of the church to our communities is applauded,” said President Mnangagwa.

“I also extend my gratitude to the entire Catholic family for the development work the country continues to benefit across all sectors of our economy. The relationship amongst the church, Zimbabwe’s liberation history as well as our political economy cannot be over-emphasised.”

President Mnangagwa noted that Empandeni Mission, which was established on land given to the Catholic Church by King Lobengula Khumalo in 1887, has benefited the people of Matabeleland South.

President Mnangagwa goes through literature for St Joseph Mission Roman Catholic Church’s centenary celebrations together with the Archbishop of Bulawayo Alex Thomas . Looking on are Defence and War Veterans’ affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Matabeleland South Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Abednico Ncube

He said during the country’s protracted liberation struggle, Catholic Missions, together with other communities across the country became the proverbial “water’ in facilitating and assisting freedom fighters.

St Joseph Mission was one of the spiritual beacons of freedom fighters.
“It is noteworthy that, the father of our late national hero and former Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, ubaba Thomas Nyongolo Nkomo established relations with St Joseph Mission. Today we, therefore, revisit and connect with the enduring symbolism of the Semokwe area, the birthplace of our founding father, the late national hero, Umdala Wethu,” said President Mnangagwa.

The President said throughout his political career and great service to the country, Dr Nkomo preached peace, unity, love, harmony, equity, justice, and total empowerment for the black majority.

“The land question was the centre-piece of our liberation struggle. I remember, he would say ‘the land belongs to the people; everything on that land is theirs.’ This rich heritage and the founding ideals of our motherland, Zimbabwe, must be defended, promoted, and entrenched by all of us, in every community throughout the country’s provinces,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said as part of honouring the late Vice President and other sons and daughters of the soil, citizens should productively utilise land to ensure food security and sovereignty.

“The call for increased production and productivity should be heard right from the ward level upwards. All of us have a responsibility to build our motherland, brick by brick, stone upon stone. Ilizwe lakhiwa, libuswe ngabanikazi balo/nyika inovakwa, igotongwa nevene vayo,” he said.

“It is us Zimbabweans who must build Zimbabwe and lift many out of poverty into prosperity. As our country scales up efforts to accelerate the realisation of Vision 2030, I urge the nation to remain inspired by the wise counsel in Proverbs 16 verse 3, which says, ‘commit your work unto the Lord and your plans will be established.”

The President said his Government recognises that there are many parishioners from St Joseph Mission who joined other freedom fighters in Zambia.

“I recall that in 1978, I met a delegation from the Catholic Bishops Conference. Their mission, among other issues, was to brief us on the war of liberation within the country. They also sought to know the future of the Church-State relationship,” he said.

The President said in addition to the footprints of St Joseph Mission, Embakwe and Brunapeg Missions are other examples of how the Roman Catholic Church has over the years been closely working with Government in shaping the livelihoods of communities.

“Many lives have been saved at Brunapeg Mission Hospital. Its school of nursing, primary school and community information centre are playing critical roles in training and skills development,” he said.

“Other Catholic institutions here in Matabeleland South province are helping in moulding the moral, religious, intellectual and entrepreneurial values in our communities and we are grateful.”

Quoting First Corinthians 15 verse 58, the President said the church throughout the country is exhorted to pray without ceasing for the country’s governance architecture.

“This will see us making further gains with regards to growing our economy, including enhancing agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism as well as science and innovation capabilities,” he said.

President Mnangagwa noted that Matabeleland South is prone to low rainfall and mid-season droughts, with some households presently food insecure.

He said Government will ensure food is availed to the vulnerable. President Mnangagwa said to mitigate the impact of climate change, Government has embarked on the construction of Tuli-Manyange Dam in Gwanda District with more dams set to be built in the future on the many rivers in the province.

President Mnangagwa and other dignitaries are shown St Joseph Mission’s oldest borehole by Archbishop

President Mnangagwa said Beitbridge Border Post is now open to traffic while modalities for the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road are being finalised with construction set to start soon.

To enhance the human capital base for the young people in the province, President Mnangagwa said the Gwanda State University has been established and is now fully operational. The university’s focus is on mining engineering, veterinary sciences, engineering and agriculture.

Aerial view of modernised Beitbridge Border Post

“Our young people in the province must be nurtured to utilise this important higher learning institution. Equally, schools within the province must strengthen the teaching of science subjects as well as construct laboratories and other facilities that will enable students to advance into the fields of science, technology and innovation,” said President Mnangagwa.

The President also donated an ambulance to St Joseph Mission Clinic, two cars to the church, one for the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Bishop Alexander Thomas and the other for St Joseph Mission and US$50 000.

He also pledged to drill boreholes for the church and donate 20 computers for St Joseph Primary School.

Among those who attended the colourful and spirit-filled event, were Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, his wife Colonel Miniyothabo Baloyi, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Minister, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube, her Matabeleland South counterpart, Abedinico Ncube, Bishop Thomas, Chief Bidi and several senior Government officials.

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