Church leaders in Zimbabwe expressed their concern for their country’s political, social and economic meltdown that has caused increasing civic unrest and violence over the past month.
In a joint statement from eight churches and community organizations, church leaders said they are “concerned about intra-party conflicts that are distracting the government from dealing with real economic and social issues that are affecting the country.”
They called upon the Zimbabwe government to listen to the cries of citizens who are suffering. “There is a need to act justly and mercifully on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged in our nation,” the statement read.
As church and community leaders, they condemned brutality by law enforcement agencies on citizens. “The citizens’ constitutional right to demonstrate and protest must be protected,” they stated. “In exercising this right, we implore citizens to always remain peaceful in their demonstrations.”
Zimbabwe is facing an unemployment rate of more than 80 percent; restrictions on imports that have crippled cross-border business, destroying livelihoods for thousands of Zimbabweans; unnecessary police roadblocks which are fueling corruption; and many other urgent issues.
“Given all this, citizens have lost confidence and trust in our government,” read the statement. “We call upon the government to immediately investigate and prosecute law enforcement agents who are alleged to have brutalized people.”
The government should urgently act and address these genuine concerns of the citizens to avoid total collapse of the state, urged church leaders.
“We call upon the church, which is the salt and light of this nation, to continue to pray and also to speak out prophetically against any unjust system, until we have a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe in which every citizen’s God-given and constitutional rights are respected,” the statement read. “May God grant us Zimbabweans the courage, faith and hope to face our challenges.”
Daily infringement of citizens’ rights and constant extortion at police road blocks have created a climate of fear in Zimbabwe, said Georges Lemopoulos, deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
“We pray for the three million people in Zimbabwe who are food insecure, and we also pray for churches and community organizations there as they unite to help Zimbabweans reach a meaningful solution.”
Lemopoulos said the WCC stands ready to help amplify the voices of justice and peace in Zimbabwe. “The human costs are too great for us to ignore the plight of the people,” he said.