WE write to express our deep concern at the confusion that abounds and the extent of the polarisation among Zimbabweans concerning the senate election.
is not only dividing the nation into antagonistic camps for and against participation but has also created unprecedented confusion in the minds of many ordinary citizens whose one overriding desire is simply to cleanse the nation of corrupt rule and to make a new start under a radically new servant leadership of real integrity.
Our people are without a wise and caring shepherd today, and this is evidenced in the divided state of the nation and the prevailing confusion, as well as in the intensity of suffering which is being continually ratcheted up.
We share the view of very many Zimbabweans that this is not the time to introduce a senate. We are appalled at the way it has been imposed upon a reluctant nation without any proper consultation or debate.
We understand that it serves the narrow sectional interests of some of the ruling elite, and no other purpose. Clearly it will not put one loaf of bread on the table of a destitute family, nor one shelter for a homeless couple, nor provide medical relief for one single HIV sufferer among the millions afflicted.
Indeed the misuse of the country’s few remaining resources for this elaborate irrelevance is in our view a scandal in the eyes of the sovereign God of justice and mercy. What he requires of us is plainly set out in scripture:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58/6-7).
Just as plainly we see the present corrupt rulers of this nation rejecting the word of God and trampling upon the poor.
If that was all there was to say about the senate election then clearly we would be urging our fellow Christians to boycott the poll tomorrow.
But we have to acknowledge that some of those who share our desire for freedom under the rule of law in Zimbabwe have advanced some good, strategic reasons for participating. We respect their integrity and their right to make their own judgement in a complex, almost no-win situation.
Sadly also we are bound to take note that the president of the MDC who advocates a boycott has himself muddied the waters by acting in an unconstitutional manner so far as his own party’s rules are concerned, and by tolerating a certain level of violence among his supporters.
Our counsel therefore is that Christians should humbly and sincerely seek the guidance of the all-wise, all-loving God on this issue and then either vote or not vote as the spirit leads them, while at the same time showing respect for and tolerance of those fellow Christians who may come to the opposite conclusion.
In any case as we have said, the introduction of a senate will change nothing so far as the suffering millions are concerned. Therefore we urge the church to look beyond tomorrow to the huge unresolved problems of poverty, homelessness, unemployment and famine that threaten the nation, and that must be tackled urgently if a humanitarian disaster of catastrophic proportions is to be avoided.
As an urgent necessity we urge the church in Zimbabwe to unite now as never before in critical solidarity with the poor and the victims of political abuse. To assist in this task we put forward the following priorities for consideration by the wider church:
* pursuant to the United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka’s report on Operation Murambatsvina, and the regime’s recent, belated acceptance of the UN’s long-standing offer of assistance to provide temporary shelter for some of the victims of that crime against humanity, we urge the UN to undertake an urgent assessment of the needs of Zimbabweans for food, shelter and other humanitarian relief; and
* pursuant to the findings and recommendations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the report of its 2002 fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe, and the continuing and intensifying abuse of human rights in this country, we give our full support to the urgent request made by a number of NGOs, human rights and other civic groups that the African Union should call publicly for the implementation of the recommendations of the African Commission.
Christians Together for
Justice and Peace,