Zimbabwe Church Leaders Press Gov't to Keep Promises

Church leaders in Zimbabwe are demanding that their country's government move faster in implementing the agreement that was made nearly two years ago between Zimbabwe's leading political parties.

Though the Global Political Agreement signed by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in September 2008 paved the way for the current transitional government between their two parties – the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), respectively – and calls for a new constitution, it has not been fully implemented, noted leaders of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and Zimbabwe Christian Alliance.

After meeting and consulting last month with their partners – including Ecumenical Support Services, Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference, Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), and the Lutheran Development Services, among others – the church leaders felt urged to draw immediate attention to what they view as the urgent concerns of the people of Zimbabwe. Such concerns include the deepening and widening poverty, the inaccessibility of food to the majority of Zimbabweans due to lack of income, the high unemployment rate of over 90 percent, the failure to create new jobs, and the seven-month delay in the constitution making process, among others.

Also noted was the curtailment of freedom of worship, which they said was evident from the burning down of churches and the disruption of services.

"It is …our prayer and demand that the Inclusive government must create a conducive environment to ensure that all citizens of Zimbabwe enjoy life in its abundance and fullness," the church leaders concluded after their May 17 meeting in Harare.

"We therefore call upon the SADC Heads of State Summit in Windhoek Namibia in August 2010 to prioritize addressing these concerns from the people of Zimbabwe," they added in their recently released communiqué.

In their statement, the church leaders also called on the government to respect the God given rights, security and dignity of persons; to dismantle all structures that perpetuate political violence; to reform the security sector as a "critical component" of creating a peaceful transition; to create the relevant mechanisms to enable the independent commissions to function effectively; and to ensure that free and fair elections are conducted by the end of 2011.

"We continue to pray to the Almighty God and encourage the Christian community and the people of Zimbabwe to actively participate in bringing about good governance, healing, reconciliation, peace and prosperity to our country," they concluded.