WE are an ecumenical group of church leaders based in Bulawayo and representing a wide diversity of Christian traditions.
We have a common concern for the kingdom
values of truth, justice and peace and are committed to working together and supporting one another to this end in Christian solidarity.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, is a respected and valued member of our group.
We note with deep concern the recent personal attacks by President Mugabe upon Archbishop Ncube and other church leaders.
When interviewed on Sky News he made a scathing attack on Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, labeling him “an angry, evil and embittered little bishop”.
He proceeded to belittle the enormous contribution Tutu had made towards the ending of apartheid in South Africa. Later in the interview he linked him to Archbishop Ncube with these words: “That’s another Tutu, the bishop, an unholy man. He thinks he is holy and telling lies all the day, every day.”
We have to say that we find these words so offensive and insulting that we cannot think any true national leader would ever utter them. Moreover, it goes beyond a personal attack upon the revered church leaders concerned because within the church, the body of Christ, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12/26).
We therefore take President Mugabe’s words as a direct attack upon the church itself. We feel the pain and share the offence of these harsh words directed at both Archbishops Tutu and Ncube. If they are “angry”, “evil” and “telling lies” then, in Christian solidarity, so are we.
In reality what we are witnessing here is a serious attack upon the church itself – or rather upon that part of the body of Christ which the ruling elite has not been able either to cow into silence through fear or to neutralise through the promise of patronage. It is an attack upon what we might call the “Confessing Church” in Zimbabwe, alluding to the group of Christian leaders of that name who would not be cowed into silence or “bought” by the Nazi regime in Germany, but who bravely resisted that evil tyranny at great personal cost.
If we are attacked or threatened then so be it. We are proud to take our stand alongside Archbishops Tutu and Ncube. Our mandate as church leaders in resisting an evil tyranny and in witnessing to the truth, justice and peace of the gospel is derived from the scriptures themselves.
Specifically here we might quote the divine word given through the prophet Ezekiel:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! … As surely as I live … because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has become plundered and has become food for all the wild animals …I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock … I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them” (Ezekiel 34/2, 8, 10).
Let the Church of Christ stand together against all slanders and threats. We have a divine mandate to challenge and confront sin, especially the sin of the rulers which causes untold suffering to the children of God. Our allegiance is not to any human ruler but to the King of kings and Lord of lords!
Fr Barnabas Nquindi,
for Justice and Peace,