Churches unite against Mugabe

HARARE - As the rot that is devouring Zimbabwe under Zanu PF’s continued misrule deepens, the country’s usually circumspect clergy are more and more finding their voice, uniting yesterday to say it was now time for the Church to speak truth to power and stand up for long-suffering citizens.

Speaking during a discussion with the media in Harare, the despairing church leaders also vowed to step up their newfound activism, adding that it was imperative that the government respected people’s rights and worked to uplift the lives of all Zimbabweans.

During the meeting with the media, which was held under the auspices of the Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum (ECLF) — an umbrella body that includes the Anglican and Methodist churches — the gathered clergy said the country’s deteriorating political and socio-economic environment compelled them to speak out.

They were also vocal against the planned introduction of bond notes to ease worsening cash shortages in the country, endemic public sector corruption and the government’s failure to honour most of its obligations, including paying civil servants their salaries on time.

Tellingly, the church leaders said the seemingly unappreciated government workers were well within their rights to embark on protests and strikes in a desperate endeavour to force the State to pay them.

ECLF executive director, Ambrose Moyo, said the organisation’s members had decided to come out of their shells because “our people are suffering and have gone through traumatising times”.

“Churches are fundamental. If 80 percent of the country’s population is Christian, why all these beatings, why the torture? We must stand up and say this is what we were called to do,” Moyo said.

“The Church has been divided as leaders see things differently and some of our church leaders benefit from the status quo, while others are afraid.

“There is fear despite the fact that the Lord said ‘do not be afraid’. We should not be afraid, let us inspire one another to remove fear,” he added.

At the same time, the general assembly of the Uniting Presbyterian in Southern Africa (UPSA) — which is represented in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia — also condemned the government’s heavy-handed tactics in tackling growing dissent in the country.

“We categorically condemn the Zimbabwe government’s heavy-handed approach in dealing with peaceful expression of protest.

“The arrests, the beatings and the disappearance of outspoken critics of ... Mugabe’s government are completely unacceptable, particularly for a country that ostensibly claims to be democratic,” said UPSA secretary-general, Lungile Mpetsheni.

The resolve by the Church to tackle Zimbabwe’s problems head-on comes after Zanu PF youths held marches on Monday, targeted against people like under-fire Baptist preacher, Pastor Evan Mawarire, who has been leading peaceful protests against the country’s deteriorating economic conditions.

Another church leader and vice president of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Lazarus Kanye , said even more bluntly that it was now time that the Church spoke up because many Zimbabweans were suffering under the yoke of punishing poverty.

“When things are happening to people who come to church every Sunday we have to be concerned. About 94 percent of the people do not understand the Constitution even as it is the supreme law.

“We are also worried about the failure by government to give teeth to commissions.

“We are also concerned with the hunger sweeping across the country, and yet no one seems to be concerned. There are a lot of roadblocks and we are also concerned by that,” Kanye said.

Many other speakers at yesterday’s meeting also emphasised the need for the Church to unite and press the governing party to respect people’s rights that had been trampled for many years by those in power.

The chairperson of the ECLF board of trustees, Danisa Ndlovu, also said churches, some of whose members had allegedly been used to wage battles against fellow citizens, had to unite and put pressure on authorities to deliver on their promises.

“Churches are powerful institutions but our leaders have been capitalising on our divisions and they can manipulate us to the extent that we are rendered useless,” he said.

In the recent past, other church leaders such as Emmanuel Makandiwa of the United Family International and Shingi Munyeza have also spoken out against the country’s economic decay which critics attribute to the governing party’s ill-advised policies.

Comments (5)

If we had churches with principled leadership in Zimbabwe, ZANU PF thugs would not get away with murder. The problem is that, the same church leaders fall on each other when invited to officiate on ZANU PF thugs occasions, in fact they regard this as recognition. This is where I have a serious problem with church leadership, as they need to stand up and provide a moral compass for all and sundry.

Zvichapera - 22 July 2016

@Zvichapera. The church is coming out head on against the mismanagement of the government. Thats a commentable move. Officiating a function has nothing to do with this move. If a church leader is asked to offer prayer for a birthday, or whatever celebration there is nothing wrong about that. Poor governance is what we are all against. Church leaders are now doing that and its commentable.

middie - 22 July 2016

mamwe machurch akarasika vazhinji wacho vaprofita wenhema....anzi...gabriel...ngironzi .....zvakafanana nagabriel mugabe vanenge vachiudza vanhu izvozvi....iwaya machurch iwaya mamwe acho anyepera kuprofit....I always you must ask the holy spirit to give you a full vision not a half vision...which you at the same time fail to fortel.Varume vechechi mese messe vanobatwa nemweya ,,vakangwara nevasina ..mese mese Bobo..robert..gabriel mugabe haachaiti kana paine mutendi anomu saporter murume uyu mwana wasatan ....mirai nditi sei..mugabe akaunza nzara muzimbabwe pamusaka pemitemo yake yakashata...ikozvino uka uka Bulawayo unozwa tsitsi.....vana vese dzangovepfambi..munhu anopa tsvika hapana vana mai vakaenda Joni kunotsvaga couwiri...baba na mai vakatorambana zvinhu zvaoma....saka pakadai munoparidza vhangeri ripi all cultural setting have been wiped out.....Iyeyi mugabe pachachake anoita zvechitsotsi ma elections chaiwo akaramba recounting zvichirewaka kuti panezvaaiwiga...vanhu vese vanoita corruption,vanoba hapana anosungwa...why since1980 hapna cabinet minister akambosungwa but zimbabwe is one highest corrupt countries in the world but no arrest just imagine.......so musanyepa nenyepa ....mugabe is no more a man to pray for no more leader to pray for everyone must stop...stop

dofo - 22 July 2016

The question thousands of us ask is why has it taken so long for the Churches to respond to Mugabe's brutal oppression? If you think back in time and remember how vocal the Churches were and the important role they played in applying international pressure upon the Smith regime, forcing him to capitulate - yet, somehow and for whatever reason they have been extremely slow to challenge the atrocities and oppression committed by Mugabe? Why this huge inconsistency is something everyone asks? The Churches but especially the RCC have let us down badly and some of them are even guilty of supporting this vile and evil regime making many of us wonder just how Christian they really are?

Mbewa - 23 July 2016

History clearly shows that Christian churches and their followers have so often turned a blind eye to brutality and oppression as the world witnessed during WWII when millions of Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps? True to form they are behaving in this exact same way in Zimbabwe. They lack almost totally in morals and principles, are cowards and are usually only motivated by financial considerations. Christianity is on its way out.

The Red Star - 23 July 2016

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