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  • The Zimbabwe We Want: "Towards a National Vision for Zimbabwe" - Index of articles

  • The Zimbabwe We Want: "Towards a National Vision for Zimbabwe"
    Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe & Zimbabwe Council of Churches
    September 18, 2006

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    At the dawn of independence in 1980, a nation was born out of a protracted armed struggle and many years of pain, suffering and oppression. The ideals of the liberation war, of one person one vote and the yearning for freedom: freedom from oppression, freedom from racism, freedom from human indignity and violation, freedom from poverty and hunger, ignorance and disease coupled with the urgent and pressing need for the recovery and restoration of the land were the driving force behind the fight for liberation. Our new found national status amongst the family of nations created high hopes and expectations for a prosperous life. It was these ideals that fired our vision of a new Zimbabwe and unlocked the energies of people to work for a better Zimbabwe.

    In the first fifteen years or so of post independence, Zimbabwe made tremendous strides in almost all spheres of life. It was a country full of promise and indeed the envy of most of the countries in Africa, South of the Sahara. We were able to build on the solid infrastructure which the colonial regime had managed to maintain despite the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. Zimbabweans enjoyed a great sense of patriotism and earned a great deal of respect from their peers on the continent and the world at large.

    Yet in 2005, Zimbabwe celebrated 25 years of independence facing a situation which was a far cry from the lofty ideals that gave birth to the Nation that 18th April 1980. The patriotic fervour, national pride and the once lofty and romantic ideals of independence were lost in the stark reality of a nation divided, traumatised and impoverished by a political, economic and social crisis whose solution does not seem to be anywhere in sight. Development indicators revealed that Zimbabwe had suffered a severe, downward spiral, an unrelenting economic melt-down characterised by the denudation of professionals and skilled personnel through massive brain drain, hyper-inflation (currently the highest in the world), shortages, decline in agricultural and manufacturing productivity, shortages of foreign currency, escalating corruption, drying up of foreign investments, and tourism dwindling to a trickle.

    These negative indicators inflicted a heavy toll on the generality of the population. Health and education deteriorated. The quality of life generally has suffered immeasurably. We have seen the rapid growth of numbers of the rural and urban poor. In addition, the insidious HIV/AIDS is having a catastrophic effect on social and economic life. The turn of events has led to disillusionment.

    It is well to remember that the liquidation of colonialism in Africa did not automatically deliver genuine participatory democracy. One of the consequences of Africa’s flirting with the one party state whether de facto or de jure was to prevent or at least delay, democracy, both in theory and practice from taking root. In Zimbabwe the forging of unity between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU in 1987 created a de facto one party state, but this was progressively accompanied by the development of political and social intolerance. Throughout the post independence period the country has not been able to respond adequately to the fundamental challenges of mobilizing consensus on constitutional and governance arrangements and the forging of a shared national vision and values.

    In all these years and through the pain and suffering of the liberation war and the challenges of independence, the Church has been part of the unfolding national landscape, many times unseen and unnoticed as it went about its core business of preaching the gospel to the poor, and as it contributed to national development through schools, hospitals, humanitarian programs and care for the orphans, widows and the disadvantaged. Even though many-a-time the Church or its components has appeared too slow and unresponsive to the ebb and sway of current affairs, particularly in the political arena (only because such issues are often emotive, controversial, sensationalised and potentially divisive) it has remained faithful to its mandate or has made great effort to take corrective action. The Church has always sought to enter the arena of current national affairs with caution, consideration and positive contribution towards the peaceful resolution of issues. Its diversity of creeds, denominations, tribes, races and constituencies demand a weighed and measured approach to national issues and as a result tended to be seen as laborious, tentative and diffuse.

    In times past the Church’s nation building initiatives were pursued from three different platforms – the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC). In recent times however, the common and continued suffering of the people of Zimbabwe, with no end in sight, has not left the Church untouched and now, in a common desire to bring an end to the daily suffering and pain of our people, the Church has come together to speak with one voice, one faith, one hope and one vision in order to bring about the Zimbabwe that we all want.

    This document is an invitation to all Zimbabweans and all friends of Zimbabwe to dialogue with us so that we can together define a national vision of the Zimbabwe we want and agree on strategies on how to get there. The document holds no brief for any political party or pre-conceived political agenda. It reflects a vision of the three ecumenical bodies regarding the Zimbabwe that we want, distilled from over 10 years of armed struggle, 25years of independence, national aspirations, pain, suffering and disappointment. It is inspired by our faith in a sovereign God who in Jesus Christ demonstrated His solidarity with suffering humanity and his power to transform our thinking and relationships through the power of the Gospel.

    The document is not an exhaustive prescription for all our ills as a nation, but is merely our humble contribution to the search for a solution to the challenges faced by our nation. It is a call to a kairos moment of reflection, repentance and a new vision of a Zimbabwe that will be shared by all, owned by all, and loved by all its citizens regardless of religion, tribe, race, gender, or political affiliation. For it is only when we unite in our diversity, that we can build a nation where peace and prosperity will flourish. It is a call to do collective reflection on our dire national situation and the toll that it is having on our economy, our quality of life, our families and the future of our children and of our nation. It is an attempt to inspire ourselves to draw lessons and nation building principles from our past mistakes so that we can envision a better and greater Zimbabwe – the Zimbabwe we all want.

    Where there is no vision the people perish (Prov.11:14). Zimbabwe needs a new national vision to restore our self-confidence, dignity, and hope. A people without a vision is like a ship without a rudder. To this end we the Church leaders of Zimbabwe commit ourselves and the Churches that we lead to do all within our power and faith, to inspire, encourage and facilitate national dialogue, debate and national reconstruction across the broad spectrum of national opinion, constituencies and stakeholders.

    May God Almighty bless the nation of Zimbabwe and grant it the faith, the vision and the courage to build a Zimbabwe that is free, tolerant, peaceful, prosperous and God fearing.

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    Visit the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC) fact sheet
    Visit the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) fact sheet

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