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Rebuild Hope, Trust, Confidence and Stability in Zimbabwe

Pastoral Letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference on current affairs in the country
17 January 2019

 

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, all men and women of good will,

IntroductionZCBC logo

(1) We begin by disowning a recent statement issued in our name during the recent stayaway that started on 14 January 2019. We, the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe, never issued any statement during that period. We are dismayed that our name was abused in the manner it was.

On another note, we have also followed with surprise a concerted vilification of the Catholic Church in The Patriot following the publication of the post-elections report of the 30 July 2018 harmonised elections by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP). In our view, the CCJP report and critical analysis of the elections was objective and factual. Fairness demands that analysis of the report, positive or negative, be challenged based on facts to the contrary and not on an imagined patriotism.

Our Observations

(2) We, the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, have observed with increasing concern and alarm the state of our Zimbabwean nation from the time of the military - assisted political change that took place in November 2017 to the total shutdown of Zimbabwe's
major cities and rural trading centres that began on Monday, 14 January 2019.

(3) We witnessed with sadness and concern the dissipation of hope for a united nation and a promising future when our politicians failed to harness the palpable oneness and goodwill prevailing among Zimbabweans across the political divide during and immediately after the political events of November 2017.

(4) We also witnessed with sadness and concern the resurgence of political and social polarisation before, during and after yet another disputed national election held on 30 July
2018, culminating in the violent unrest on August 1, 2018, during which property was
destroyed, many people were injured and at least 6 civilians were shot dead.

(5) We have also witnessed with sadness and concern Government's piecemeal and knee-jerk reaction to the worsening economic situation, exemplified by the unilateral imposition of 2% tax on the country's major money - transfer and payment system and by the hefty increase in fuel prices on 12 January 2019, the immediate cause of the violent demonstrations and riots that brought Zimbabwe's major cities and rural trading centres into complete lockdown.

We are saddened and concerned by:

(5.1) Government's failure to arrest the deteriorating economic situation that has seen many companies close, many breadwinners losing their jobs, the cost of living soaring beyond the reach of the majority of people; these have been the cause of industrial unrest in the country's key service sectors, particularly Health and Education;

(5.2) Violent demonstrations and riots that have resulted in the destruction of property and disruption of essential services;

(5.3) Government's heavy-handed and intolerant handling of dissent and expression of rights by Zimbabwe's dissatisfied population resulting in injury and death to innocent ordinary people.

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