Zimbabwe's Evangelical Christians Condemn Government For Belittling Catholic Bishops
The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), an umbrella body of evangelical Christians in the country claiming to represent over four million Zimbabweans, has issued a statement in support of a Pastoral Letter on the Current Situation in Zimbabwe by Roman Catholic Bishops last week.
The Catholic Bishops’ letter angered the Harare regime which has a penchant for vilifying all critical voices. However, observers believe that the government went too far in its rebuke of the bishops, especially the kind of language that it used.
Instead of accepting criticism and self-introspecting, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government chided the clerics as “evil” and accused them of having genocidal tendencies and belittled what it called the “self-righteous Ndebele minority”.
Meanwhile, in a statement dated 17 August 2020, the EFZ said it agreed totally with what the Catholic Bishops said.
Below is the EFZ statement:
Solidarity Statement with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference’s Pastoral Letter on the Current Situation in Zimbabwe of 14 August 2020
1. We the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) encompassing 845 member bodies representing over 4.5 million Christians wish to categorically state that we stand in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference (ZCBC).
As it is said “we cannot find any reason to condemn them” because what they articulated is the truth and nothing but the truth.
2. On 14 August 2020, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) published a pastoral letter that “bears witness to the truth” that every ordinary Zimbabwean knows and faces every day.
We stand with the truth that the Catholic Bishops so ably articulated; a truth that affects our people on a daily basis; the truth of a multi-layered crisis of the convergence of economic collapse, deepening poverty, food insecurity, corruption and human rights abuses among many others. “The ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire “; we stand with this truth as depicted in Micah 7:3 and articulated by the Catholic Bishops. We stand with the truth “that the government is focused on things other than national democratic priorities”
3. Only the deceitful or malicious can deny these truths. Like Pontius Pilate, there may be those who cannot or will not see the truth even when it stares them in the face shackled in chains and falsely accused. They would rather call the silence of the oppressed “peace”, the brutality of force “justice” and the abnormality that people struggle with every day as “normal”. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and when this happens every truth is a lie and a veiled threat and every disagreement a revolt. It is true that “If the eye is evil the whole body should be full of darkness”- Matthew 6:22
4. In our Pastoral Letter issued on the 4″ of August 2020, we stated that Zimbabwe is indeed in a crisis-the crossroads between danger and opportunity. “The arrest of citizens and prohibition of mass action has not dented the momentum of discontent and agitation but instead has caused it to gain regional and international attention through the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter which has gone viral.
Arbitrary arrests, abductions, torture and suppression of people’s anger can only serve to deepen the crisis and take the nation into deeper crisis”.
We further called on the ruling authorities to utilize the window that still exists to turn danger into opportunity by entering into dialogue to address the underlying causes of the current crisis and realize the Zimbabwe we all want.
5. True democracy is not built on threatening and criticizing those who speak up or speak out; it is not in denying inconvenient and unpalatable truth; it is not demonizing those we disagree with. Democracy welcomes the truth.
Democracy is built on the search for truth. Feet and bodies may have been stopped on the 31st of July 2020 but the truth still marches on.
Harsh criticism may be poured out on the Church and its leaders but the truth still marches on. Abductions, torture and incarcerations maybe unleashed on journalists and every voice of dissent but the truth will still march on as it did during the struggle for independence against a more sophisticated and superior force of arms, and State machinery that made every aspirant of freedom a hunted terrorist.
6. The truth may be on the cross today and wrong may be on the throne but on the third day, it will rise again because the truth still marches on.
7. We reiterate the need for an inclusive engagement, dialogue and transformation.
BY ORDER OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE