Churches call for debate on ‘ailing’ nation

HARARE - Churches in Zimbabwe want a national debate to secure the future of the southern African nation, paralyzed by its worst economic and political crisis since Independence 26 years ago.
As a contribution to that debate, Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical leaders have published a comprehen

sive discussion document that examines the crisis and offers proposals on the way forward.
Prepared jointly by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the 44-page document – titled ‘The Zimbabwe We Want: Towards A National Vision For Zimbabwe’ – says the ” nation is desperately in need of a physician, and that physician is none other than us the people of Zimbabwe.”
According to the report, all development indicators show that Zimbabwe has suffered a severe and unrelenting economic melt-down characterized by loss of professionals through massive brain drain, hyper-inflation (now at over 1,000 per cent), shortage of essential commodities, decline in agricultural and manufacturing productivity, shortage of foreign currency, escalating corruption, drying up of foreign investments and collapse of tourism.
The crisis, the leaders say, is due to lack of a shared national vision, political intolerance, oppressive laws (particularly the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and the failure to produce a home-grown, democratic constitution.
Other factors are economic mismanagement and corruption, failed land reform, international isolation and inability of churches to speak with one voice on national issues.
The church leaders admit their own failure to speak up on behalf of the people during the crisis, which they say has been worsening for the last eleven years.
“As Churches, we confess we have failed the nation because we have not been able to speak with one voice. We have often not been the salt and the light that the Gospel calls us to be. We, therefore, confess our failure and ask for God’s forgiveness.”
Zimbabweans need to clearly redefine a vision of the nation they want and the core values upon which to build it, the church leaders say.
“Our vision is that of a sovereign and democratic nation characterized by good governance as reflected in all its structures and operations at all levels and in all our institutions; a nation united in its diversity, free, tolerant, peaceful, and prosperous; a nation that respects the rights of all its citizens regardless of creed, gender, age, race and ethnicity as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and with a leadership that puts the interests of the people of Zimbabwe above all personal gains; and above all a nation that is God- fearing.”
Some of the core values that would help realize that vision are spirituality and morality, unity-in-diversity, respect for human life and dignity, respect for democratic freedoms, respect for other persons, and democracy and good governance.
Others are participation, patriotism and loyalty, gender equity, social solidarity and promotion of the family, stewardship of creation, justice and the rule of law, service and accountability, promotion of the common good, option for the impoverished and marginalized, and excellence. – Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

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