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Harare Crisis: Church Must Speak with One, United Voice

Harare – With current unsettling events unfolding in Zimbabwe – probably pointing to anarchy , the media has called the church to convene a...

Harare – With current unsettling events unfolding in Zimbabwe – probably pointing to anarchy, the media has called the church to convene a more united voice against social ills within Zimbabwe.

In an open dialogue convened by the Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum (ECLF) labelled the Zimbabwe church and media crisis indaba.

The ECLF is a gathering of concerned churches established in 2008.

“The government is silencing the church. It seems the church is perpetuating the oppression of the masses, not speaking with one voice and sharply divided,” said Njabulo Ncube, the president of the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum.
The Church in Zimbabwe has Been Urged to be Proactive 

Lately, the religious constituency has come under incessant salvo by the leadership, with a recent one emanating from President Robert Mugabe aimed at Pastor Evan Mawarire, the crusader of #ThisFlag campaign.

However, leading clergyman combined forces during Mawarire’s incarceration by the state machinery notably Bishop Tudor Bismark and Pastor Shingi Munyeza. In addition, various church bodies have raised concern over unfolding events in Zimbabwe.

In a joint statement, church organisations including, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Catholic Bishops Conference, Habakkuk Trust and Christian Alliance said the government mus take heed.

“These grievances must be viewed as the early warning signs, which indicate underlying and simmering tensions that will soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed. 

"We call upon the government to immediately investigate and prosecute law enforcement agents that are alleged to have brutalised people. The government should also urgently act and address these genuine concerns of the citizens to avoid total collapse of the State,” they said.
Bishop Ambrose Moyo warned that if the current situation persists, there might be a more difficult situation. “We are concerned and alarmed by the political situation that has caused suffering and violence that has erupted in Zimbabwe…,” he said.

Esteemed media practitioner, Barnabas Thondlana  maintains the church is influential. “Pastors need to speak on the pulpit and addressed the issues of violence because this is where one has influence. What can you do to inform their congregation?”

The church has engaged government on various platforms, though the prevailing situation requires a different approach.

“As the church comes under scrutiny for its role in society, the need to engage has become urgent. The church is changing compared with the past were they would not be involved in some other things.

“The church must educate, preach, pray and build capacity from the pulpit. We have engaged ministers before on some of these issues. The media must be conflict sensitive and zoom on people who are instigating violence, said Reverend Cele.

Deliberations exposed that the culture of fear has affected some of the church leaders, who have experienced pain, while some sermons are censored.

“The genuine church has a mandate to minister to the leadership. The people are looking to the church. What must the church do?”

High unemployment, accountability by leadership was also discussed. The need for an inclusive national dialogue to address the Zimbabwe crisis was echoed strengthening similar statements raised by activists and political parties. 

The debate was attended by various stakeholders concerned by the prevailing situation in Harare.

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