The Citizens Coalition for Change launched its election manifesto in Bulawayo, two weeks before the elections.
The party says it will run the country on the basis of Christian values.
It says it will change the country’s economic fortunes in about 100 days.
Some Zimbabweans have lambasted the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) for declaring in its election manifesto that it intends to run the country on the basis of Christian values.
Party leader Nelson Chamisa is an ordained pastor with the Apostolic Faith Mission.
In his election pledge, titled “A new great Zimbabwe”, he said: “The citizens movement’ s philosophy places God first and citizens at the centre.”
In an address to those invited to the manifesto launch at a lodge in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, he added that his presidential bid was grounded in God’s philosophy.
“The maker needs to be the foundation of the nation. When God is at the centre, we will be one. Let’s all be under God,” he said.
When the party launched its election campaign in July, Chamisa also declared that he wanted God-fearing candidates to represent the CCC.
According to the Zimbabwean government statistics office’s 2015 nationwide demographic and health survey, 86% of Zimbabweans identify as Christians, 11% claim to practise no religion at all, less than 2% adhere strictly to traditional beliefs, and less than 1% identify as Muslims.
Journalist and social commentator Hopewell Chin’ono said the CCC should “avoid getting itself entangled in emotional arguments of faith and religion”.
On social media platform X, previously known as Twitter, he said: “Zimbabwe doesn’t need a theocracy run by Christians because we have Muslims, Hindus, traditional religion folk, and even atheists who are Zimbabweans.”
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya added that the manifesto went against the party’s running theme, “for everyone”.
“This kind of religious polemic is undesirable. We require religious diversity and inclusivity in Zimbabwe,” he added.
However, Chamisa’s legal advisor, Thabani Mpofu, defended the party’s stance, saying that the preamble of the country’s constitution states: “Acknowledging the supremacy of Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, and imploring the guidance and support of Almighty God.”
In the 100-page manifesto, God was mentioned 20 times as the CCC declared that it intended to “Make Zimbabwe a God-loving, God-honouring and God-fearing nation”.
With God at its centre, the party said it could turn around the country’s socioeconomic fortunes in 100 days.
This, the party said, would be done in a 20-point plan that encompasses reconstruction, rebuilding, reconciliation, transformation, and modernisation.
The manifesto also mentions creating a R1.9-trillion (about US$100 billion) economy.
“We will stimulate rapid and accelerated growth, improved macroeconomic conditions, and the successes of business by providing opportunities for private sector-led job creation, anchored by predictable and consistent policy.
“We will, with immediacy, take decisive steps and disruptive actions to stop the haemorrhaging of the economy, the suffering of the people, resource looting, and leakages buffeting our country and impoverishing its citizens,” Chamisa said at the manifesto launch.
However, critics were quick to point out that some of the issues in the manifesto were similar to those other candidates had promised, such as aspiring independent candidate Saviour Kasukuwere and the promises Zanu PF had made during its rallies.