Source: Dialogue answer to current crisis: Churches – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 11, 2019
BY OBEY MANAYITI/NQOBANI NDLOVU
CHURCHES have expressed sadness over the worsening socio-political and economic situation in the country and called for an expanded dialogue process to include all interested parties to draw a shared vision to tackle the challenges.
The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) revealed this after holding a National Episcopal conference in Bulawayo that ended on Thursday.
The ZHOCD is made up of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) and Union for Development for Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (UDACIZA).
The churches said the crises faced by long-suffering citizens could no longer be left to government and political players alone. The group reiterated the call for a comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue.
“Church leaders are disheartened as they witness the heavy toll of ongoing fuel shortages, price hikes, heavy taxation and currency crisis,” the churches said in a statement.
“The desperate cries of struggling Zimbabwean families as they battle to put food on the table, send children to school, seek healthcare for the ill, make a living in difficult economic conditions and cope with life’s struggles in a context of austerity require urgent attention.”
The statement added: “The time to act is now. It is not God’s will for our people to be divided, suffering and to be in perpetual conflict. Our relationship with each other needs healing. Our economy must do more to meet our people’s needs for dignified and fulfilled lives free from want.
“Our people’s desire to be heard and to meaningfully participate in the decisions that impact their daily lives must be honoured.”
The clergy said it would soon begin preparations for the holding of an inclusive national convention to explore ways towards a practical resolution to the pressing challenges.
The churches said they wanted to establish three ecumenical commissions on healing and reconciliation, economic justice and constitutional democracy to co-ordinate the preparations towards the upcoming national convention and the national dialogue process.
“We are calling the nation for a Sabbath season of rest from all forms of polarising political activities and contestation, finger-pointing and violent conflict. This is vital to build trust and confidence in the national dialogue process and to ensure ownership for its outcomes,” the statement read.
The statement also urged the international community to support their initiative and the inclusion of vulnerable, marginalised, voiceless and all those in the diaspora to be given opportunities to voice and contribute towards to national dialogue.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been forging ahead with a “national dialogue” with fringe political parties without the Nelson Chamisa-led main opposition MDC.
“We are also instructing our technical teams to formally request the expansion of the Tripartite Negotiation Framework and its legislative mechanism to accommodate the church, civil society and other organised interests in dialogue processes to secure the nation’s shared future,” ZHOCD said.
“We also instruct our technical teams to establish three ecumenical commissions on national healing and reconciliation; economic justice; and constitutional democracy to coordinate the preparations towards the upcoming national convention and the on-going work of the national dialogue process.”