International Solidarity for Zimbabwe in Crisis

World church bodies in solidarity with Zimbabwean churches

International church organisations on Monday rallied to show solidarity with churches in Zimbabwe under attack from the government.

The Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the World Methodist Council sent a message of solidarity of their “yearning for the realization of their human rights, for justice and for physical and economic security” in an open pastoral letter to the churches and people of Zimbabwe on August 17.

They condemned the use of violence against those protesting the “failure of governance structures” to protect the Zimbabwe people from “deteriorating” conditions.

The four international church organizations also strongly condemned “sexual abuse and violence against women activists.”

The letter specifies particular concern about “the mistreatment of political activists and other advocates for human rights,” economic and health care challenges exacerbated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other failures as the country cries out for “effective accompaniment.

The Holy See’s representative in Zimbabwe, Archbishop Paolo Rudelli, paid a solidarity visit on Sunday Aug. 16 to the Archbishop of Harare, Robert Christopher Ndlovu who had been singled out for a scorching personal attack by the Zimbabwe Government, Vatican News reported.

Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops drew a sharp government response after last Friday issuing a Pastoral Letter, titled ‘The March Is Not Ended’ on the current crisis in the southern African nation.

Then in a vitriolic attack on the bishops, a government minister played on delicate tribal divisions and was herself accused of stirring genocidal ethnic massacres.

On the weekend and on Monday there was widespread support for the Catholic bishops in the country. Church leaders in the umbrella church body, the Zimbabwean Council of Churches (ZCC)of which the Bishop’s Conference is a member church, firmly backed the Zimbabwean Catholic bishops pastoral letter. The ZCC called on president E.D Mnangagwa “to provide leadership by retracting the personal attacks on Archbishop Ndhlovu and the church leaders, but invite the national government to an inclusive national dialogue towards a homegrown solution to the challenges that are facing the nation.“

The ZCC statement said that Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa’s “emotional and disrespectful” response to Catholic bishops’ Pastoral Letter missed its “unifying and national orientation”. The ZCC statement continued that the “legacy of Gukurahundi still stalks the nation as those past hurts remain unhealed.”

On Sunday the general-secretary of the ZCC tweeted that Archbishop Ndlovu is his bishop too. “When he speaks I listen.”

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South African journalist, author & filmmaker in Berlin. Writing on southern Africa, Germany, politics, culture, films, books, interfaith. www.serfontein.org

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