Clerics moot anti-sexual abuse commission

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference has called for more deterrent penalties for clergymen who engage in criminal activities such as rape.

Appearing before a Senate thematic committee on Gender and Development yesterday, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference parliamentary liaison officer Edward Ndete said no church should be allowed to harbour criminals.

Ndete was giving oral evidence on the activities and programmes of churches in combating domestic violence and rape in churches.

The committee was chaired by Zanu PF Senator for Mashonaland West Prisca Mupfumira.

Ndete said the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) was in the process of restructuring itself with a view to coming up with an acceptable model of regularising the activities of churches under their purview.

“A crime is a crime no matter who commits it,” Ndete said.

“It doesn’t matter whether one is a bishop, nobody is above the law. No church will protect criminals and we need to look at ourselves closely so that we ensure those who cannot administer properly shape up or ship out.”

In the wake of reports that church leaders were sexually abusing their congregants, churches were currently undertaking programmes to curb gender-based violence and other sexual abuse.

Lindani Dube and Solomon Zwana, secretary-generals of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Council of Churches respectively, also tendered oral evidence before the committee.

Both bodies are affiliated to the ZHOCD.

Zwana said almost all member churches under ZHODC had established gender desks mandated with looking at socio-economic issues that lead to congregants being abused.

“We are working towards establishing a faith-based commission that ensures that charisma in church leaders is sober,” Zwana said.

“We need to have institutions where power is not vested in one individual to neutralise deviant tendencies, to ensure that churches have robust governance systems that regulate the activities of the top leadership”.

Following the recent conviction and jailing for 40 years of Independent End Time Message founder Robert Gumbura on multiple rape charges, the clergy expressed concern that their image had been buffeted by the adverse publicity.

“We have publicly echoed our disappointment at such people because though ordinarily we may not have been involved, their actions affect us,” Dube said.

The churches also expressed concern at the rate at which society was losing its moral fabric owing to globalisation.

They called on authorities to ensure moral values are inculcated in children at schools, and  claimed children were increasingly exposed to unacceptable moral values through television programmes.

Comments (2)

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CARTRIDGEGALLERY - 12 March 2014

What bible do you read Bishops and Clergies, the pharisees and sadducees of our day. You are failing on one small door which will lead you to the largest room to understand that Gumbura was NEVER a wicked and filthy man. Ask yourself the questions which address before and present. What was the relationship like before and understand now. You can't understand a book by the cover nor by the conclusion but reading the whole story. Councils and Commissions against Gumbura may God grant you worth potions and that you learn not to blaspheme!

B & C - Mere Boys! - 14 March 2014

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