AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - "Work for peace and for free and fair elections": appeal to the faithful of Christian leaders

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Harare (Agenzia Fides) - "Today the nation of Zimbabwe is at a crossroads; a defining moment, commonly called Kairos in theological term, when the people of God is called to make decisions affecting their future seeking the guidance of God" says an open letter of the Zimbabwean Council of Churches, ZCC, published on the occasion of the presidential elections being held today in the Country.
"Men and women of faith must play a positive role in maintaining balance in all political processes. We must avoid bloodshed, kidnappings and other forms of violence that characterized the elections in June 2008", the document continues. Then as now, the two main challengers to the highest office of the State are outgoing President Robert Mugabe and the main opposition leader (outgoing Premier) Morgan Tsvangirai. The 2008 elections were marked by violence and accusations of fraud. Mugabe's victory was in fact contested by Tsvangirai who did not participate in the ballot, to protest the violence against his supporters. A period of instability followed that ended in 2009, after a negotiation under the auspices of the South African Development Community (SADC), in the creation of a national unity government in which Mugabe retained the Presidency, while Tsvangirai became Prime Minister.
The tensions of the campaign this year also involved the various religious denominations in the Country.
In their letter the religious leaders expressed concern about attempts to divide the churches for political calculations, and denounce the fact that some religious leaders were forced to participate in election meetings.
"We ask the whole Church in the region and around the world to pray for peace, to be prophetic and to exercise their pastoral responsibility in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe", the message concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 31/07/2013)