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‘We will never be silenced’, SADC Catholic Bishops tell Mnangagwa

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro

The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference has praised the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) for denouncing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government over unprecedented crackdown on dissent and urged them never to keep quiet.

Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha, president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (Photo: Fr Paul Tatu CSS)
Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha, president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (Photo: Fr Paul Tatu CSS)

In a statement by Bishop of Mthatha and President of the SACBC, Sithembele Sipuka, the men of the cloth vowed to be “in unconditional solidarity” with their Brother-Bishops of Zimbabwe in the face of attacks by Mnangagwa’s regime.

“We, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) … continue to note with increasing concern the unabated situation of repression in Zimbabwe, resulting in increasing hardship and suffering to the citizens

“We commend you for your prophetic voice in naming and condemning the brutalisation of ordinary people by security forces and the underlying corruption that has led to the total collapse of services to the people by the government (of Zimbabwe).

“Your Pastoral letter of Friday 14 August 2020 clearly describes the hardships and problems faced by Zimbabwe, and analyses the causes, which those in authority do not want to hear.

“Your voice of encouragement to the people of Zimbabwe is what they needed to hear in this time of their greatest need. It is opportune and appropriate that this letter was issued on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.”

This comes after Information minister, Monica Mutsvangwa attacked the ZCBC using all sorts of derogatory language after the clergymen had condemned the wanton human rights violations and clampdown on opposition activists amid escalating political tensions in the country.

She singled out for strong rebuke, Ndebele priest, Robert Ndlovu and it has been widely considered tribalistic.

SACBC condemned the attack on Ndlovu by Mutsvangwa.

“It is most regrettable that instead of addressing the issues, the Government through its Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, chose instead to target and insult Archbishop Robert Ndlovu as “evil-minded,” projecting its own tribalistic agenda to fuel divisions in the country.

“To you bishops and particularly to you Archbishop Ndlovu we remind you of what Jesus foretold about those who speak in his name that “they will seize you and persecute you” (Lk.21:12).

“We pray that the Bishops and the Church will continue to speak prophetically, with the voice of God, and be the light that shines in the darkness, ‘and the darkness has not overcome it,’ (Jn.1:5).

“Keeping quiet is not an option, and as shepherds of the people, your voice of support gives hope to the people entrusted to you to carry on.

“As your brothers and sisters in Southern Africa, we assure you of our support and prayers that this time of suffering, in your country, may soon come to an end,” read the statement.

Speaking at the Politburo meeting on Wednesday, a defiant Mnangagwa castigated the ZCBC for denouncing his unprecedented crackdown on dissent claiming instead there is no political crisis in Zimbabwe.

He accused the men of cloth of working with people who wanted to destabilise his government.

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