THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector
 
 
    HOME THE PROJECT DIRECTORYJOINARCHIVESEARCH E:ACTIVISMBLOGSMSFREEDOM FONELINKS CONTACT US
 

 


Back to Index

A Pastoral Letter to the nation
Zimbabwe Council of Churches
March 23, 2006

Preamble
Having thoroughly and critically observed the unfolding events in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches notes with great sadness the rapid decline in the quality of life for ordinary Zimbabweans. Our Lord Jesus Christ said "I have come in order that you might have life - life in its fullness." John 10:10b. This is now a far cry from the situation which we find ourselves in; Zimbabweans are now being forced to live on selected basics.

The majority of our people now lives in abject poverty, are unemployed and are severely threatened with hunger and diseases. God bestowed enough wealth in Zimbabwe to enable His people to live life in its fullness; hence we call on Zimbabweans who are the stewards of God's wealth to avail it for all Zimbabweans. In instances where investigations have been done to establish the cause of our situation the results have pointed to bad governance, unjust laws, corruption, lack of integrity and the unfair distribution of resources as some of the root causes.

Our mission is "To meet the needs of our communities through the proclamation of the gospel to develop our capacity to be self-sustaining and to speak with one voice on issues of national interest." We are set to continuously work as stated in our mission statement so that our nation will prosper. We call upon Zimbabweans to listen to the advice of the wise, "Wealth that you get by dishonesty will do you no good, but honesty can save your life." Proverbs 10:2.

1. CORRUPTION

The economic costs of corruption are enormous. Corruption thrives in an environment where religious, ethical teaching and moral standards are weak, punishment is lenient, large number of people are competing for insufficient services and where there is great inequality of wealth. The government has expressed willingness to deal with corruption. Most recently concern from various quarters has been expressed strongly against corrupt practices in high offices. This has seen the creation of the Ministry of Special Affairs in the President's office and cabinet responsible for anti-corruption and anti-monopolies, and the setting up of the anti-corruption commission. These are positive signs in the fight against corruption. However, efforts should not just be cosmetic but be put into full and effective use in order to rid society of this monster.

Corruption does not only have impact on economics but impacts negatively on the whole social fabric, in particular a society that thrives to build democracy and promote good governance in Zimbabwe. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr. Gideon Gono, also bemoaned the rise of corruption in all sectors of the economy in which he named it as the economy's major enemy.

As Churches in Zimbabwe, we note with concern that even where the machinery exists to curb corruption, little is being done or has been done. We, therefore, feel obliged to speak out on this evil that is continuously bleeding an already crumbling economy and if this continues unchecked, recovery will be impossible.

2. STATE OF THE ECONOMY

The present Zimbabwean economy is characterized by acute foreign currency, fuel and drug shortages, a thriving and fully fledged parallel market for basic commodities and services, massive corruption threatening a shutdown to the Zimbabwean economy with deeply destabilizing consequences for the country itself and the surrounding region. The economic situation has deteriorated to the extent that we have become a burden to the neighbouring countries as millions of Zimbabweans have now became economic refugees in those countries. Brain drain has also become the order of the day as the doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals leave for greener pastures. This is a major concern for the church.

The following are the major highlights in the state of the economy:

a. Inflation
Inflation is regarded as number one enemy but it appears that the fight against this known enemy has stopped. With the current level of inflation life becomes unmanageable and unpredictable. The future looks bleak and investments are threatened.

b. Debt
Both domestic and international debt require continuous servicing and to be greatly reduced. The propensity to borrow for recurrent expenditure is growing when the nation is under this burden of economic insecurity. The church also notes with concern the growing uncertainties concerning the relations between Zimbabwe and the International Financial Institutions like the IMF.

c. Devaluation
For whose benefit? Local people are now finding it difficult to acquire goods and services as these are now pegged in US dollar terms. It is difficult to compete with those people in the diaspora as they always offer higher prices for things like houses and stands and even cars. Since the houses are owned by people living outside the country rentals are very high as they match them with those in the diaspora. This means that devaluation is targeted at improving the lives of those living outside Zimbabwe whilst driving the prices of goods and services out of reach of the locally based Zimbabweans. Zimbabwean industry continues to under perform. Despite the implementation of the Operation Murambatsvina, the informal sector is still flourishing without contributing to the national revenue.

3. LAND REFORM - AN UNFINISHED BUSINESS

In Zimbabwe, our economy is agro-based; and, as such, we note with concern numerous challenges that are faced:

  1. Continuous land seizure/grabbing/occupation
  2. Multiple land ownership
  3. Underutilization of land
  4. Misuse and abuse of facilities meant for the new farmers such as the subsidized fuel which they divert to the black market.
  5. Loans from Agribank are abused by people who have advantageous positions
  6. Under performance of the agriculture sector also kills the upstream and downstream industries

All these mentioned challenges lead to unemployment as those who have been employed in the agriculture sector are rendered redundant. In the same vein this has also threatened the food security of Zimbabwe which was once regarded as the regional breadbasket. Food inflation which accounted for 32 percent of the inflation basket will continue to rise if farm disruptions and other such retrogressive practices persisted. Down stream and up stream industry suffer thereby pushing unemployment up and this further weakens our economy.

4. STATE OF OUR TOWNS AND CITIES

After Operation Restore Order/Murambatsvina that was conducted in all the cities and towns in Zimbabwe, the general feeling was that order was going to prevail; but eight months down the line, the state of the same is deplorable and in a bad state. Even with the intervention of the Reserve Bank Governor to give loans to the local authorities, our cities are continuously losing gloss. In Chitungwiza for example the water and sewerage reticulation is still not up to standard. The infrastructure in our towns and cities is deteriorating i.e. the streetlights are not functioning, potholes are all over the roads, uncollected garbage continues to pile up, burst sewage is flowing in the residential areas.

We also note with concern that the interference by the Ministry of Local Government and Urban Development meant to turn around the situation has failed, instead the situation has deteriorated. Of deep concern is the quality of water in the cities especially for Bulawayo, Ruwa, Marondera, Chitungwiza, Norton and Harare among others. There have been questions raised as to whether the water quality meets the World Health Organisation Standards. With the outbreak of cholera people live in fear of an epidemic if things do not change soon.

5. THE CONSTITUTION

God is a God of Justice and He wants the rulers of His people to administer justice. The rulers of God's people must be an expression of the people's wishes. People elect leaders and the elections are in accordance with the Constitution of the land.

A Constitution is the most important law in any country as through it the instruments of good governance are established. A democratic society can therefore only come from a democratic constitution. There has been criticism from various quarters that our present Constitution centralizes power in the Executive and takes away too much from the people. We share this criticism of our constitution. We feel that there is urgent need for appropriate amendments to be made to our constitution so as to level the playing field and create an environment which will enable the citizens to play and feel a part in the running of the country's affairs.

The Churches Prayer/Our Prayer

"Do not think that I come to abolish the law or the prophets, I have come not to abolish but to fulfil" Mt 5:17 (NRSV).

In speaking of the law or the prophets, Christ was speaking of the culture and religion in a broad sense, concerning the Jewish nation. The church draws inspiration from these words of our Lord to remind the nation of Zimbabwe of its cultural identity and call to salvation. All cultures of the nation of Zimbabwe have a common foundation in values, morality and communal social action that enhance social relationships, harmonious living and prosperity of all. These cultural foundations teach us to celebrate the central truths of Christianity, how to distribute the goods of the earth and live out our daily lives in love, truth and community spirit. The Church stand in admiration and awe of these positive foundations and prays that the Government, Parliament, Citizenry and Churches the nation of Zimbabwe responds to the call to salvation.

This then is our exhortation:

1. CORRUPTION

  1. All the three pillars of the state, the Executive (the government), Parliament and the judiciary must act in concert, but each much retain its independence and traditional role over the other. This evil must be vigorously and expeditiously rooted out without fear or favour. Action must be a sustained swift and decisive display of seriousness.
  2. The citizenry, informed by ethical and professional journalism, must stand in the truth; cooperate fully with the government against corruption. It must show strength of character by desisting from corrupt practices itself and denouncing corruption at all levels. Citizens should not in one hand condemn the government and then go on to engage in corrupt activities.

2. ECONOMY

  1. Government is urged to adopt fiscal measures that stimulate growth with equity in order to close the widening gap between the rich and poor. Such a broad gap offends the sense and spirit of community of the nation of Zimbabwe.
  2. Government should engage all selflessly to seriously committed stakeholders in the quest for total economic recovery. We have tended to put blame on others and failed to focus on ourselves for the part we have played in destroying our economy.

3. LAND

  1. It is a serious indictment on this nation that six years after embarking on the policy of land acquisition we still hear of land invasions. It is time that a stop is put to this more so as this is now taking place from those in high places. We should now be talking about good land utilization especially this season when God has blessed us with such good rains.

    Government must take up a deliberate and robust policy of rectifying whatever errors were done during the chaotic period of land acquisition.

  2. The newly settled farmers should be encouraged to seek training in acquiring skills for proper land utilization so that we are restored to our position of being the bread basket of the Southern Africa.

4. STATE OF TOWNS AND CITIES

  1. It is of concern to witness a resurfacing of structures and trading practices which led to the Operation Murambatsvina. Corrective action needs to be urgently taken to nip the bad practices in the bud.
  2. Government is urged to bring about normalcy in the running of towns and cities as a matter of urgency.
  3. Parliament must deliberate upon and enact legislation that ensures greater control by the citizenry in the running of towns and cities and guarantees that whilst there may be differences in political persuasions, politicking and partisan interests and machinations will not prejudice the nation of Zimbabwe.

5. THE CONSTITUTION

In the light of the above observations we strongly feel that Government and Parliament must attend to all aspects of the constitution and which have been complaint of Chief among these are:

  1. Centralization of the powers on the President.
  2. Holding of Presidential election separately from Parliamentary election.

In making any such amendment wide consultations must be made so that no sector of our nation is left out. We need to come up with a Constitution which will create an environment conducive for peace and stability.

CONCLUSION

Let us all take up our call to salvation and confess our sins before God for the part each of us has played in bringing our country to the sorry state we find ourselves. We must remind ourselves of the thought demonstratively expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-3.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven;
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build . . . ."

We have killed and torn down enough; it now must be a time to heal and rebuild.

By the Zimbabwe Council of Churches:

African Methodist Church
African Methodist Episcopal
Anglican Diocese of Harare
Anglican Diocese of Central Zimbabwe
Anglican Diocese of Matabeleland
Anglican Diocese of Masvingo
Anglican Diocese of Manicaland
Baptist Church Convention
Christian Marching Church
Church of Central Africa Presbyterian
Church of Christ in Zimbabwe Council Churches
Dutch Reformed Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe
Independent Church in Africa
Independent African Church (Mushakata)
Methodist Church in Zimbabwe
Presbyterian Church of Africa
Salvation Army
Reformed Church in Zimbabwe
United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe
Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
United Congregational church (SA)
United Methodist Church Ziwezano Church

Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.

TOP