AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - "Let us remain united: the elections are not a fight between friends and enemies"

Tuesday, 11 July 2023 bishops   elections  

Harare (Agenzia Fides) - The forthcoming elections, described as "critical, decisive and decisive", "must not divide us as a nation", write the bishops of Zimbabwe in their pastoral letter dedicated to the elections of August 23. Voters are called upon to elect the Head of State, the members of the Chamber and the Senate and the representatives of local bodies. Zimbabwe still suffers from the heavy legacy of Robert Mugabe, the father of national independence, who was deposed in 2017 after 37 years of unchallenged power. To replace him in 2018, the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, a former collaborator of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, was elected. An election however contested by the opposition. The country is also suffering from an economic and social crisis. According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), unemployment has reached 90%. The government disputes these figures, saying that a large part of the population works informally. The inflation rate has recently increased again to 175%. The ruling party, whose rural electoral base seems to have remained loyal to it, has the means of the state to carry out its campaign, while the authorities put obstacles in the way of the electoral activities of the opposition; on July 6, eight supporters of the main opposition presidential candidate, Nelson Chamisa, were arrested for violating a ban on a campaign rally. In this context, the Bishops call on people to take responsibility for voting: "Courage! Stand up… and be responsible Make your voice heard at the ballot box", they urge. "Let us all be responsible citizens who will be remembered as men and women of this generation who were so united that their ideological differences could not divide them. Instead, they remained united by celebrating their unity in diversity". "Elections - recall the Bishops - are not a struggle between friends and enemies. If choices are offered to us, they arise from the different ideologies defended by the political parties, and not from the existence of sworn enemies. We are one people, Zimbabweans, divided we fall, united we stand." Finally, the message calls for responsible use of the press and social media, avoiding hate speech and language that incites hatred. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 11/7/2023)