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Pastoral Letter to the nation
Council of Churches
March 23, 2006
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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
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:
- Continuous land
- Multiple land
- Misuse and abuse
of facilities meant for the new farmers such as the subsidized fuel
which they divert to the black market.
- Loans from Agribank
are abused by people who have advantageous positions
- 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
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
must take up a deliberate and robust policy of rectifying whatever
errors were done during the chaotic period of land acquisition.
- 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
- 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.
- Government is
urged to bring about normalcy in the running of towns and cities as
a matter of urgency.
- 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
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:
of the powers on the President.
- 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.
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
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
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
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
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