By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Anglican Bishops have registered their support for Catholic Bishops who were recently insulted by Zanu PF for criticising human rights abuses by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
In an equally strongly-worded pastoral letter dated August 24, 2020, the Anglican Council of Zimbabwe (ACZ) accused Mnangagwa of threatening the church for carrying out its spiritual duty of “speaking on behalf of God’s People”.
The letter was signed by ACZ chairman Ignatios Makumbe of the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe, Godfrey Tawonezvi (Diocese of Masvingo), Cleophas Lunga (Diocese of Matabeleland), Erick Ruwona (Diocese of Manicaland) and Farai Mutamiri (Diocese of Harare).
“We write this message to highlight our concerns and emphasise that indeed the ‘March is Not Ended’ unless and until the issues raised by the people of Zimbabwe and also echoed by the (Catholic) bishops are attended to and resolved holistically.
“We wish to register our concerns to the several responses of the government which we feel were counterproductive to the efforts being made by many stakeholders including the church to unite the nation,” the letter read in part.
“ACZ notes with concern the several responses by the government of Zimbabwe to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference which seem to dismiss the fact that the church is called to exercise its prophetic role, which can mean challenging our political leaders on their conduct of affairs, particularly if this affects the people of God.”
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.
“We make it abundantly clear that since time immemorial, the church in Zimbabwe has spoken against injustice and has been consistent in that regard.
“Any view or postulation to the contrary would be an attempt to rewrite that narrative in order to promote a negative picture of what the church stands for.
“The church has the biblical mandate to speak without fear or favour, particularly to a government which believes that ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God’.
“As Anglican bishops, we desire to see an engagement of all stakeholders (as requested by Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations and respect of the Constitution of the land and institutions thereof for the good of our nation and (Proverbs 11:14); victory for the nation as we, together, overcome all our challenges,” the Anglican leaders said.
The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference recently praised the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) for denouncing Mnangagwa’s government over unprecedented crackdown on dissent and urged them never to keep quiet.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing massive human rights violations perpetrated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration which is battling an economic crisis partly blamed on corruption and mismanagement.
Over 60 people have been arrested and some of them brutalized by suspected state security agents following the 31st July anti-corruption protests.
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who played a key role in exposing Mnangagwa, his son Collins and his wife Auxilia in allegations of corruption was arrested on spurious charges of inciting violence.