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WCC general secretary encourages churches before Zimbabwe election

WCC general secretary encourages churches before Zimbabwe election

Bishop Lazarus Mpande Khanye, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata meeting with the leaders of Zimbabwe’s ruling and opposition parties. Photo: WCC

05 July 2018

Speaking to a gathering of key church leaders in Harare, Zimbabwe on 1 July ahead of a 30 July election of parliament and a new president, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit brought greetings from the WCC and assured those gathered of the support and prayers of the ecumenical fellowship.

Tveit encouraged people with the challenge that, to be followers of Christ means not to live for ourselves, but to be agents of justice and peace and to share Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. He reflected that God is opening a new door for peace in Zimbabwe.

Mentioning the role of the WCC, he said: “I am very encouraged by what the churches are doing to prepare people for a free, fair and democratic election in Zimbabwe. This is a moment of hope and you in the churches are at the forefront of the process.”

He also called for unity, whatever the results of the election. “Your involvement in the fairness of the election process reflects your love of the people you serve in their daily struggles - the love of Christ which compels us to move.”

Tveit pledged that the WCC would continue to accompany Zimbabwe in the election process, “because we need this moment of hope in the world”.

In response, Rev. Dr Kennedy Gondongwe, principal of the United Theological College, thanked Tveit for “making us believe in ourselves”.  He recalled that in 1972 the WCC had helped play a central role in the country’s liberation “and again the WCC is with us at this moment of a new beginning”.  He noted that the church and the ordinary people in the streets want change.

Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, general secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), is leading the process of election observation, as well as several other related initiatives.

“The Zimbabwe Council of Churches has been a running a broad campaign, ‘I-Pray-I-Vote,’ aimed at mobilizing the nation to pray for a peaceful election as well as going on Election Day to vote,” said Mtata. “This has been strengthened by various dialogue platforms (ecumenical election covenants) to enable the citizens to share their aspirations of the upcoming elections. Our focus is an actively engaged citizenry throughout the process.”

On 2 July, Tveit, Mtata, and ZCC president Bishop Lazarus Mpande Khanye met with leaders of the ruling party and the opposition party. They also had a meeting with the ambassador for the European Union to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, the Zanu-PF secretary of Administration who is also the minister of Home Affairs, Dr Obert Mpofu and the MDC Alliance president, advocate Nelson Chamisa. All of them emphasized and welcomed the role of ecumenical observers to the election, from Zimbabwe and other countries.

WCC member churches in Zimbabwe