THE Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) in its latest Pastoral Letter says Government’s political and economic policies have failed, leaving many people facing “dehumanising poverty”.
The powerful body of twelve serving and retired Catholic Bishops no single political party has all the answers to the nation’s pressing socio-economic demands and politicians must work together for the good of the people they lead, who have suffered for long.
With next year’s general elections approaching in about twelve months, the Bishops have warned that there is already political tension and bloodshed amid fears this could escalate heading into next year.
“In Zimbabwe, the context of the synodal journey is the growing political volatility brought about by the impending 2023 general elections,” said the Bishops in the Pastoral Letter which we publish in full HERE.
“These elections are already being preceded by political intolerance, violence and bloodshed. What has exacerbated our situation is the economic instability of the country which has brought with it instability in the financial market resulting in continuous increases in prices of basic commodities leaving them beyond the reach of the poor.”
The Letter goes on to call for “meaningful inclusive dialogue” as a way to ease tension and create an environment where business and investment can prosper and sustain livelihoods.
“If, as Catholic social teaching says, the value of policies is assessed by how they impact the poor then one can safely say that our political and economic policies have failed.
“There is so much dehumanising poverty and despair among our people. In order to overcome our socio-political and economic challenges there is need for a meaningful inclusive dialogue in the country.
“If there is a lesson from our synodal journey it is precisely that we cannot go it alone. No single political party has all the answers hence the importance of listening to each other as we journey together.”
Since the election petition challenge in 2018, President Mnangagwa and opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa have never dialogued despite numerous calls for them to close ranks and work together. Chamisa spurned calls to join the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform, saying it was a compromised interface where Mnangagwa holds sway.
Of late, prices have been rising frequently with official inflation figures hovering around 200 percent. Civil strife is high amid rising cost of living and pressure on fuels from the war kn Ukraine. All these further pose unmitigated challenges to the populace, the Bishops warn.
“An equally important context is that of climate change which has resulted in ever increasing droughts in Zimbabwe. The 2022 crop yield has been very poor resulting in the exposure of the poor to hunger.
“The synod calls for an open dialogue within the church and with people from the worlds of economics and science, politics and culture, arts and sport, the media and social initiative.
“We cannot overstress the benefits of a true and open dialogue. Dialogue entails respectful listening, speaking out openly with respect, coming to know and understand one another as we find common ground. Let us commit ourselves to persistent and courageous dialogue.
:The church not only listens to all but as prophet, the church listens carefully to God, is attentive to people’s cries, anguishes and discerning the signs of the times speak truth to power.”
Further, the Catholic Bishops warn against capture of the Church by the politicians, saying this makes it difficult for captured churches to stand against corruption and injustice.
“There is a serious danger in trying to mute the prophetic voice of the Church. The history of Zimbabwe clearly shows how the Church, guided by values of standing against injustice and corruption and promoting respect for life, promoting the common good and the dignity of the human person has contributed to building a better Zimbabwe,” reads the Church.
“History has taught us that when the Church is controlled by the State, the end is disastrous, the Church ceases to speak out for the weak and oppressed, power is corrupted and freedom is denied.”
Only this weekend, President Mnangagwa attended an apostolic sect gathering where he was declared the genuine leader Zimbabwe deserves.