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Global instruments of colonisation condemn Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter
19 Aug 2020 at 07:15hrs | Views
INTERNATIONAL Christian organisations have thrown their weight behind the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) in calling for justice and the protection of citizen's rights as President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government continues to receive condemnation following its attack on Catholic priests last week.

This came after Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa last week labelled the bishops as "genocidal and evil-minded" in response to a pastoral letter in which the bishops called on government to respect human rights.

The World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches and World Methodist Council yesterday threw their weight behind ZCBC through a solidarity letter signed by their general secretaries Ioan Sauca, Martin Junge, Chris Fergusson and Ivan Abrahams, respectively.

The Christian leaders said they found sexual violence against female political players and "the incarceration of journalists and political leaders unacceptable".

"We have heard the laments of our sisters and brothers in your country and we are deeply concerned about the circumstances by which you are afflicted. We express our solidarity with all the people of Zimbabwe yearning for the realisation of their human rights, justice, and physical and economic security in their communities," the church leaders said.

"We condemn the increasing use of force, violence and intimidation against people protesting these failures, targeting particularly those deemed to oppose the current government. We are particularly concerned about the mistreatment of political activists and other advocates for human rights. We strongly condemn the sexual abuse and violence against women activists."

The Christian organisations said although the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the country's crisis, government was also to blame for failure to deal with corruption and protect human rights.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the economic challenges and seriously affected the already fragile public health and education systems. The ongoing medical doctor's strike has caused millions of Zimbabweans including children and pregnant women to have no access to essential medical care," they said.

"While we understand the gravity of the challenges posed by the pandemic, we also recognise that the root causes of corruption and the longstanding failure to protect human rights lie in failed governance structures."

The Catholic Lawyers Guild in Zimbabwe, National Movement of Catholic Students (NMCS) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) also expressed shock at government's attack on priests.

"We are shocked by government's blatant denials of the crisis in Zimbabwe. We are equally concerned that corruption, including the misappropriation of funds intended to combat COVID-19, has become entrenched, with public resources diverted for personal gain," the Catholic Lawyers Guild said.

"Without responding to the issues raised, the government issued a vicious attack on the bishops, regrettably calling the church's leadership "misguided and evil-minded.

"We note with serious concern the vicious tribal attack against Archbishop (Robert) Ndlovu which must be condemned by all right-thinking people."

NMCS said Mutsvangwa's statements were regrettable and as young people they vowed not to remain spectators.

"It is regrettable that government did not take this letter as a reminder to establish common good and instead rushed to dismiss it and question the integrity of the bishops. We are not asking for much. We are asking for the chance to live in a functional economy with opportunities for all, where we can actively put to use our skills and talents for the development of our beloved country," they said.

"It is two years after the last election and things are actually worse: a collapsing economy, a more polarised community, unemployment, a crippled health care system. The arrests and detention of journalists and other activists have become rampant."

The Catholic lawyers demanded an apology and retraction over the vitriolic response to the ZCBC.

EFZ said despite government's denial, the truth would "still march on".

"Only the deceitful or malicious can deny these truths. We stand with the truth that the Catholic bishops so ably articulated; a truth that affects our people on a daily basis; the truth of a multi-layered crisis of the convergence of economic collapse, deepening poverty, food insecurity, corruption and human rights abuses among many others," said EFZ.

"Feet and bodies may have been stopped on July 31, harsh criticism may be poured on the church and its leaders but the truth still marches on. Abductions, torture and incarcerations maybe unleashed on journalists and every voice of dissent but the truth will still march on."

The Adventist Lawyers Association also weighed in, saying the situation in the country "is rapidly worsening".

In a statement, the Adventists said Mutsvangwa's attack on the Catholic bishops exhibited "intolerance of the worst degree", adding that her attacks on Ndlovu were "frightening reminders of the country's history of the 1980s".

"The State should be receptive of the views of its citizenry and engage with those who are unhappy with its governance, rather than abuse State power to wage brutal attacks on the people it is elected to protect," the Adventist lawyers said.

They demanded that government withdraws statements made by public officials which amounted to hate speech, allow the exercise of free speech and religious freedom in accordance with the Constitution, uphold the right to legal representation and respect client-attorney privilege and allow legal practitioners to exercise their vocation without interference or intimidation.

They also said government must free political detainees and allow all inmates in the country's remand centres and prisons their rights, including the right to proper legal representation, the right to adequate clothing, food and medical attention.

Source - newsday