The church and its neglected role

By Patson Dzamara

Two Pastors are in Harare’s Remand Prison, not necessarily on religious grounds but political. Did I just say political! Yes I did. It is almost a taboo and surreal but that’s what it is.

Dr Patson Dzamara (Picture by Mail & Guardian
Dr Patson Dzamara (Picture by Mail & Guardian

Pastors Evan Mawarire and Patrick Mugadza are behind bars on frivolous and trumped up charges preferred against them by the state. Even though I have deep regard for these two gentlemen for joining the likes of Bishop Ancelimo Magaya in making it their business to do their real business, this article is not about them but you and me.

In this age of unprecedented religious theatrics, manipulation and deceit, it’s hard to come across bona fide religious leaders. One of the parameters which anyone can use to ascertain the authenticity of a religious leader is their relationship with the truth. Anyone who capitulates from the demands of the truth is not authentic.

The truth is not always convenient and palatable. Therein lies the dilemma and most people fail the truth test.  That’s why most of these religious leaders compete to give Mugabe and his minions praise even though they are aware of the injustices being presided over by that gang.

I therefore boldly state that in as much as the illegal arrest of the two pastors is unfortunate, it is very necessary. From the abduction of my brother Itai Dzamara to police brutality and senseless arrests of citizens including the two pastors. Do not get me wrong, I am not hereby endorsing evil. I have been arrested, tortured and persecuted several times myself.

Zimbabweans have been raptured in a false sense of security and contentment for a long time. They certainly needed an exhibition of all this in order for them to wake up.

I recall feeling all alone at times while fighting the unquestionabe ugly hand of injustice embedded in the morbid abduction of my brother Itai. Some people would even avoid associating with me because according to them I was no longer ‘safe’.

I have always posited that the church has let Zimbabwe down because they have pretty much assumed an indifferent posture in the face of oppression and injustice. I hope that recent developments, especially the arrest of the two Pastors will awaken the sleeping giant – the church.

Here is what we all need to know. In the Zimbabwean context, there is no constituency that is as big and more influential as the church. Not even any political party.

God has his own ways. The battle has been taken to the church itself and the church can no longer confine it’s role to praying and singing heavenly hymns in their sanctimonious posture. We certainly need the voice and influence of the church on our way to the promised land. The church should be the catalyst and it must preside over the transition to a better Zimbabwe.

With that in mind, we can conclude that what we are witnessing is a necessary evil. We need this for us to get off our butts and fight for a better Zimbabwe together.

After all is said and done,  this calls for unity. All progressive movements, including the church, pro-democracy organisations and the opposition must unite against the oppressor. Pharaoh must fall.

If we can’t unite, speak with one voice and work together, this therefore will be recorded as just the beginning of the gnashing of teeth and a major painful step towards a heartbreak after the 2018 elections. If we choose not to act selflessly, drastically and decisively, we are going to endure the pain of oppression all our lives. More and more people will be arrested. Blood shall be spilled and lives shall be lost.

God has decreed that Pharaoh must let his people go but Moses (Church) must take his position. May the true church rise up to speak and act boldly against repression.

A new and better Zimbabwe is possible in our lifetime.

(Patson Dzamara is a pro democracy activist, leadership coach and author, and conference speaker based in Zimbabwe)