Inter-faith bodies have been advised to utilise their social capital to assist in unifying the nation and steer the country towards a trajectory that defeats political polarisation.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Professor Paul Mavima, said this recently at the launch of the Zimbabwe Inter-Religious Council, a new organisation which brings together interfaith bodies including the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and the Union for Development of the Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe.
“We need help as Government, I don’t want to lie to you,” he said. “Even my party, the ruling (Zanu PF) party needs help in order to move this country forward.
“If you hear us saying we can do this by ourselves, we will be lying. We need help even for simple things like community development, we need the participation of people who can bring what is known as social capital.
“We need to mobilise people to believe that there is a certain dream that we can push together as a nation. Once we have done that no matter how difficult things become, people become the solution.”
Prof Mavima said there had been polarisation even at the political level for almost two decades, to the detriment of Zimbabwe’s development, particularly for the young generation.
“It’s now time to say, ‘we need to define the direction that we want to take as a nation’,” said Prof Mavima.
He said inter-faith organisations provided the most effective way to get people to commit to values voluntarily.
“There is no motivator better than that and all these are fundamentally laid organisations, these are not fluffy kind of organisations,” said Prof Mavima.
“When we talk about the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, we know their history, even us from the political side, we know where they have been, what part they played even during the liberation struggle, their commitments to justice no matter what. So when I come here and see that these are the signatories, I am happy.”
Representing the ZCBC, Father Fredrick Chiromba welcomed the formation of the inter-faith council noting that it fulfils their expectations which had been lingering for a long time.
“At the national level, we have this Commission which had no clear links but now there are links,” he said. “We can report to Rome that ‘yes we have an inter-religious council’.
“As we launch this inter-religious council, there is also an invitation from the Catholic Church from Rome because at the moment, some of you may be aware that the whole Catholic Church worldwide is involved in a synod at the moment where there are consultations.”
Leader of the Zimbabwe Inter-religious Council, Sheikh Ismail Duwa, assured Government of the organisation’s support.
Udaciza board chair, Bishop Noel Mangwiro, said their organisation supported the inter-faith council so that they could speak with one voice as Zimbabweans.