Harare (Agenzia Fides) - "The government should address these genuine concerns of the citizens to avoid the total collapse of the State" say Christian leaders of Zimbabwe in a joint statement to protest police violence against demonstrators and for the arrest of Evan Mawarire. "He is a Baptist pastor who invited the population to demonstrate against the dramatic social and economic conditions of the Country (see Fides, 12/07/2016).
"If the government does not listen to the cries of its suffering citizens, warning that their grievances could soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed", says the document sent to Fides which was signed, for the Catholic Church, by the local Episcopal Conference.
Pastor Evan Mawarire had been arrested on July 12 and was then released the next day on the orders of a Harare court. After the general strike on July 6 the police arrested about 300 people, according to Amnesty International.
In their statement, Christian leaders denounce the violence and police brutality against demonstrators and declare themselves concerned about the intimidation of Mawarire and other Church leaders "who speak in favor of the weakest".
The document criticizes 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe's policies, in particular the failure of companies, in part or in whole of government property, because of "rampant corruption and high levels of unaccountability and impunity". Massive unemployment, moves to impose bond notes despite clear resistance and the loss of trust in the government's ability to pay its workforce are other severe problems, warn the leaders.
Because of hyperinflation, Mugabe abandoned his own currency in 2009 and uses mainly U.S. dollars. Most people in Zimbabwe, with a population of close to 16 million, survive on $1 a day. They eke out a living in small-scale informal trade, mostly selling goods bought in South Africa. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 15/07/2016)