AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Zimbabwean bishops warn of increasing poverty in their Country

Tuesday, 20 February 2024 lent   poverty   bishops  

Harare (Agenzia Fides) - Another Bishops' Conference in Africa warns that the government's economic policies are worsening the poverty in which the majority of the population lives. Like the Bishops of Nigeria (see Fides 19/2/2024), the Bishops of Zimbabwe now emphasize that "the government's decision to increase taxes while ordinary citizens struggle to afford one meal a day "has worsened the conditions for the families". "For most older people and especially for the poor, life has become incredibly expensive. Raw materials are becoming more and more expensive," they emphasize in this context. The controversial elections in August 2023 (see Fides 17/8/2023 and 24/8/2023) have also brought the political system to such a standstill that, according to the bishops, "many people fear that we are moving towards a one-party state and democracy slowly dies”. "As a result of bad policies, the disastrous economic system and their devastating effects, many people are falling into despair," says the message from the bishops, who call not to succumb to the temptation of despair, but above all to pray. "Prayer," they emphasize, "is not an escape route. It is a way to find solutions to the challenges we face in our world and in our country." Solutions based not so much on intelligence but on wisdom inspired by the Spirit of God. The message therefore calls on people to use Lent to intensify their prayer and relationship with God so that "we as Christians can become beacons of hope in a desperate country and a desperate world." Despite a good recovery of the country's economy in 2021 and 2022, rates of poverty, vulnerability and food insecurity remain high. Increasing global unrest and supply chain disruptions contributed to higher energy and food prices and high inflation. The supply chain disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine led to a rise in inflation. Due to the impact of the war in Ukraine, energy prices increased by 80% and food prices increased by more than 30% in 2021. Also in 2022, energy prices rose by 60% and food prices by another 18%. Zimbabwe remains indebted and although new borrowing is limited, public debt has continued to rise due to arrears and legacy debt. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/2/2024)