In November last year the 37-year rule of President Robert Mugabe came to an end. Two months later, the mood among Zimbabweans can be described as cautiously optimistic and there is a sense of hope for a better future. General elections are scheduled in July, which will determine the political direction of this once prosperous country.
Last week, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) gathered church leaders, communicators and others in Harare for a three-day communications workshop. WCC Weekly took the opportunity to ask three participants about the mood of the people, the role of the churches and their hopes for the future:
Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Bulawayo:
”A mixed mood of hope and anxiety prevails. Hope, because a 37-year hold of power has ended and anxiety about whether the change will be felt on the ground in people’s day-to-day life. Hope is emotional and psychological, while anxiety is about practical things”.
”Christians need to infiltrate into all departments and aspects of governing, so that they continue to be the salt and light in those areas. The church should be the watchdog of government operations and hold it accountable for the human rights of the people”.
”Am I hopeful? Yes, because the method of change was not an ordinary human method of takeover, such as war or a coup. I believe that God had a hand in the peaceful method of change of leadership. And so, I believe that God, who started this change, can give us the wisdom to bring about meaningful change in the lives of the Zimbabwean people.
Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, Dzivarasekwa United Methodist Church in Harare:
”We have entered a new era with a new scenario. People have become more tolerant and are now marching together for a national cause, without political party considerations. This has never happened before, at least not since independence.”
”The church has a very important role to play. The voice of the church must remain prophetic and it must continue to speak, regardless of political scenarios. The church must be a moderating force when things are tense. It must speak messages of hope, peace and tolerance, and it must be visible”.
”Am I hopeful? I am very hopeful and look forward to a brighter and more prosperous future for Zimbabwe.
Mrs. Musah Zondo, administrative secretary at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, Eastern Diocese, Harare:
”Concerning the mood of the people, I think there are mixed feelings. Some feel that things are changing for the better, while others say things are the same or worse. For instance, prices of basic commodities have gone up in the last few months. Furthermore, the new president belongs to the same political establishment as his predecessor. He could have pursued change earlier.”
”Regarding the role of the church I feel it is taking an upper hand and is actively being involved in fighting for change. That is by large done through the ZCC”.
”Am I hopeful? Yes I am indeed hopeful for change!”