On a day dominated by the depressing aftermath of the Israeli-Gaza flotilla outrage and the appalling mass shootings in Cumbria, I received a copy of the Communique issued by the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches in consultation with key civic society organisations (including the Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe, National Association of Non Governmental Organisations, Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Zimbabwe Peace Project) and aimed at encouraging the prophetic witness of the Christian churches and challenging those in power in Zimbabwe to address the country’s real needs.
These bodies met in Harare on May 17 2010 to deliberate on key issues and a possible strategic engagement agenda with SADC. Namibia is about to take over the chairmanship of SADC and consultations have been held with the Namibian Council of Churches. The communique has been jointly released by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance for attention by SADC, the Africa Union, the media and other strategic partners.
Communiqué from Zimbabwe Church Leaders
We, the members of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance and Christian Agencies in consultation with our Civic Society partners namely Ecumenical Support Services, Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference, Zimbabwe Peace Project(ZPP), Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, Crisis Coalition, NANGO, Zimbabwe Peace Project, A.E.A and the Lutheran Development Services met in Harare on the 17th of May, 2010 to deliberate on the progress made by the Inclusive Government.
Consistent with the prophetic and pastoral mandate of the Church, we echo the words of Christ in John 10 v 10 which say “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly”. It is therefore our prayer and demand that the Inclusive government must create a conducive environment to ensure that all citizens of Zimbabwe enjoy life in its abundance and fullness.
We acknowledge the progress made so far to implement parts of the Global Political Agreement that has led to partial stabilisation of the economy. We also acknowledge the attempts made by the SADC mediation teams to ensure that there is full implementation of the GPA.
However, we note with concern, that the GPA has not been fully implemented. We draw the immediate attention of the three principals to the following urgent concerns of the people of Zimbabwe:
- Deepening and widening poverty
- Food is not accessible to the majority of Zimbabweans due to lack of income.
- High unemployment rate of over 90% and failure to create new jobs
- The discouragement of investment
- The discouragement of humanitarian assistance by some political authorities
- Continued problems within the education sector, increasing illiteracy with over 60% drop out rate due to high costs
- Slow recovery within the health sector
- Poor service delivery eroding the people’s confidence in public institutions
- The political violence and intimidation which had been contained, to a certain extent, by the coming in of the Inclusive Government now resurfacing especially in Mashonaland Central, Masvingo and Manicaland through structures created in the run up to the 2008 Presidential elections
- Curtailment of freedom of worship e.g. the burning down of churches (Masvingo, Macheke and Muzarabani) and disruption of services
- The 7 months delay in the constitution making process and apparent lack of commitment and transparency in the selection of the outreach teams, the rapporteurs and the development of the talking points
- Failure of the Organ for National Healing and Integration to function effectively in a tension ridden country
- Violence against human rights defenders
- The marginalisation of Zimbabwean citizens and the monopolisation of the processes by the three political parties e.g. participation in the constitution and national healing processes.
Noting that all human beings are created equal before God, we therefore call upon the three principals
- to apply political will to ensure the full implementation of the GPA
- to respect the God given rights, security and dignity of persons.
- to dismantle all structures that perpetuate political violence
- to reform the security sector as a critical component of creating a peaceful transition
- to create the relevant mechanisms to enable the independent commissions to function effectively
- to ensure that the current Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is Zimbabwe based and readily available.
- We demand free and fair elections by end of 2011 under the following minimum conditions:
(i) church and civic society monitoring
(ii) International and regional supervision
(iii) A new and clean voter’s roll
(iv) A new ZEC Secretariat with an adequate budget allocation
(v) A conducive environment for a free media, voter education and transparency
(vi) The creation of a Constitutional and Electoral court
We also call upon SADC to
- critically review the causes of the lack of progress and take decisive action on the deficits of the GPA
- immediately deploy church, regional and international election observers.
Taking note of the lack of progress to the GPA, we reiterate our call for elections by end of 2011. The GPA is a transitional mechanism for the democratisation of Zimbabwe, which we will not allow to be permanent. We therefore demand that the SADC Summit in August 2010 ensure that the elections are conducted in 2011.
We therefore call upon the SADC Heads of State Summit in Windhoek Namibia in August 2010 to prioritise addressing these concerns from the people of Zimbabwe.
We continue to pray to the Almighty God and encourage the Christian community and the people of Zimbabwe to actively participate in bringing about good governance, healing, reconciliation, peace and prosperity to our country.
This is precisely the sort of courageous leadership the country needs from its Christian leaders.