The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) made up of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa (UDACIZA), the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), all together representing the majority of Christians in Zimbabwe, would today like to welcome the growing global solidarity for Zimbabwe characterized by the social media #ZimbabweanLivesMatter and at regional level by the sending of the envoy by the South African President and the Chairman of the African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa. Like the churches and citizens of old we also say, “…Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9).
The ZHOCD has, from 2006 implored the nation for the need for a national vision that would help the nation to entrench constitutionalism, restore relationships through reconciliation based on truth-telling, and establish justice on the basis of equitable access to the national wealth. While the nation successfully established its constitution in 2013 and its implementation and its entrenchment into the national culture remains an outstanding task, the last few months have seen the deepening of the gross manifestations and short-comings that have been raised by the churches in the last two decades.
The country suffers from severe food shortages with almost half the population in need of food. This situation is only going to intensify between now and March 2021 before the next harvest. The growing levels of malnutrition amongst children can leave permanent damage on their development if the situation is not arrested. There is deepening poverty with about 90% of the population in informal employment which has now been rendered redundant due to the lockdown in response to Covid-19. The collapse of health, education and other social services has increased the burden on the poor and other vulnerable groups in society. The shortcomings of leadership to satisfactorily resolve the grievances of the health sector personnel has left hospitals without being properly prepared to respond to Covid-19. The high-levels of corruption resulting in the expulsion of the Minister of Health, has meant that the resources meant for Covid-19 have not been channeled to where they are needed. The arrest and persecution of the journalists and the civil activists who amplified and detailed the depth of corruption, is worrying. The continued persecution of activists, some of whom have been tortured and treated inhumanly while others are still in hiding for fear of similar treatment, is a cause for serious concern. The violent presence and involvement of the army in the sphere that must be taken care of by the police is also a worrying development since the beginning of the new dispensation in November 2017.
The churches have always, and will reiterate that the above issues are only manifestations or symptoms of systemic challenges of (a) inadequate humanitarian preparedness, (b) failure to find mutually acceptable closure of the hurts of the past, (c) failure of the entrenchment of constitutionalism and the rule of law, (d) the breakdown of social contract characterized by cartel-controlled and corruption-infested exclusive economy, and (e) continued international isolation of Zimbabwe.
As the church, we have insisted that these issues need urgent attention. We are convinced that a Comprehensive National Settlement to all these issues should emerge from a broad-based and comprehensive national dialogue, not only among political actors, but one that includes all sectors of society.
Our hope is that the South African envoy and the whole global solidarity will catalyze the beginning of such a truthful, loving and mutually inclusive national dialogue process. Let such global solidarity awaken the convergence of the agency to build the Zimbabwe We Want.
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert… I am He who points out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.Isaiah 43: 18-19
Source: Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD)