The Zimbabwe we want

'Do not ask for trust, but give trust'
This is the title of a document launched by the Churches of Zimbabwe last week with the aim of being 'our humble contribution to the search for a solution to the challenges faced by our nation.'
It is a provisional work sett

ing out markers towards a shared national vision and it is the result of months of reflection by the Evangelical Fellowship, the Council of Churches and the Catholic Church. The word ‘churches’ pleasingly and imperceptibly slips into the singular on the very first page signifying a unity among Christians that the President was quick to notice.
Yes, the President was there and this was puzzling. The event was billed as the launch of a dialogue and the understanding, at least of this writer, was that it would be a chance for the church leaders to brief their members about the thinking behind the initiative and procedures proposed to carry it forward. To invite the very person you hope to persuade with your approach on day one seems to be like scoring an own goal in the opening moments of play.
In fact the president, in a diplomatic but nonetheless telling way, took the opportunity presented to him to undermine the entire initiative. He first of all told the church leaders they were men (and one women) like the rest of us. They may wear clerical collars but they are subject to the same temptations as anyone else. They have no privileged insight into solutions for the country.
He then went on to declare the document ‘utopian’ as if to say, ‘you can come up with beautiful solutions to our problems from your theology and spirituality but we deal in the hard realities of everyday politics.’ Finally he rubbished the proposal for a new constitution by sacralising the Lancaster House Constitution. It was born of the blood of those who gave their lives in the struggle and was wrested from a feint-hearted British government. What could be more ‘home-grown’ than that?
One is left with doubts about how to proceed. The government has no intention to seriously enter into dialogue. Earlier this month we celebrated St Francis’ Day. The humble ‘God’s fool’ of Assisi went to meet the Sultan of Egypt, Malek al-Kamil, and together they established peace in the Muslim Middle East. Francis believed that peace cannot be ‘made.’ It must be ’embodied.’ In other words techniques and position papers can only work if the people involved are people of peace themselves. This goes very deep.
At the launch referred to above, the All Africa Conference of Churches President, Rev Dr Gatu, narrated some words of the late John Garang. Dr Gatu asked him if one could ever trust an Arab? Garang replied, ‘do not ask for trust, but give trust.’

Post published in: Opinions

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