Is the Church in Zimbabwe Complicit in the Subjugation and Suppression of Citizens?

Evan Mawarire inspired a generation that had lost hope

Love him or loath him. Pastor Evan Mawarire has done more to champion the democratic rights of Zimbabweans than most church leaders in the recent past. He has stood up to challenge a repressive regime in a way that other church leaders have not.

The current batch of church leaders particularly those in the Pentecostal movements and the prophetic churches have effectively jumped into bed with the current government and aided the continued suffering of the masses. Some have chosen to look away and pretend that all is well in Zimbabwe, while others have sided with, and went out their way to justify the regime responsible for the bad governance and rampant corruption.

Bad governance

Governance can simply be defined as the exercise of power or control or it is the authority to manage the affairs of a state or community which is carried out by a body of elected people (like democratic governance) or by acts of coercion (like the case of military governance). Good governance, therefore, is that government that is responsive to the needs of the governed with distinctive democratic features such as equity, fair-play, human- rights, rule of law, peace and so on. Pastor Evan has been very vocal in this regard.

Both the church and good governance are meant to promote the dignity of humanity. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have this in Zimbabwe.

The church in Zimbabwe could have achieved this more easily by getting involved in the political processes in the country but it seems most church leaders in Zimbabwe have opted to stay aloof.

The church must do more

They have chosen to distance themselves from the electoral process, the so-called prophets only concern themselves with guessing who will be the next president and predicting and declaring prosperity and all sorts of sweet talk.

Effectively negating their role in nation building. This should not be left to the corrupt is it any wonder that the desired good governance and nation-building has not been achieved?

This is exactly the trend that Pastor Evan has been trying to reverse. He did not stay aloof during the oppressive campaign which saw Mugabe deposed. He was part of the movement of the day to redeem political and social life of the people of God.

Where are the other church leaders?

Indeed, the church and particularly its leaders should use its proximity to speak and advise those in power to shun corruption, politically motivated killings, oppression, victimization of real or perceived political enemies, and lots more that are common among politicians and political leaders in Zimbabwe today. The Christians should transcend from politics of the pockets to politics of good governance. They should toe the line of John the Baptist who, against all odds, told King Herod in the face that he abused power entrusted to him by taking his brother’s wife (Mark.6:18).

It is only when the Christian leadership rise to the occasion and speak against the social ills perpetrated by the political leaders that the dividends of democracy and good governance will be achieved, and justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos, 5:24).

The Church must step up

As we proceed post the recent violence that we just witnessed in the opening part of 2019, the Church should see it as an obligatory injunction given by God to sensitize the believers on the urgent need find peaceful solutions to the nations deepening crisis. Solutions which will help to enthrone good governance. This will ultimately lead to the actualisation of Zimbabwe’s dream of building a better and greater nation. A nation truly open for business.

It is the duty of the church to raise members of godly qualities in the society so that they become functional and useful to themselves and the society. This can be achieved through the inculcation of the right attitude into Christians. Christian virtues like honesty, transparency, righteousness, holiness, love, fear of God, humility, and others can help make society a better place, so the church must not relent in promoting them. Church leaders must not jump into bed with the oppressors but hold government to account.

Bad human rights history against citizens

In Zimbabwe for example, political leaders have by and large not lived up to the principles and practices that contribute to good governance and church leaders has turned a blind eye and, in some cases, aided the government in oppression of the masses.

This is especially reflected in the:

• Human rights abuses characterized by harassment of people having divergent views from those in the regime in power, illegal arrests and detention, disappearances and killings.

• Mismanagement and plundering of national resources.

• Undermining the constitutional mandate of national institutions by making them serve personal or group interest as opposed to national interests.

• Adoption of policies that promote division and undermine national unity and peaceful co-existence within the nation and the region.

• Deliberate flouting of constitutional provisions.

Church and government must have checks and balances

Since the Church, is institutionalized by God to bring the mind of God to bear upon total human life and contribute to the building of value systems upon which a sound society may be built, it has a responsibility to call the state to order and remind it of its divine calling (John. 5:3; 1 Peter. 1:17; Deuteronomy 10:17-19 and 16:18; Jeremiah 23:3; Psalm 45:4-8). In this case the state must recognize that the Church has a divine right from God to possess and to use all rights of correction and admonition invested in it without threat or interference from the state.

Similarly, when the Church conducts herself in a manner that betrays her mission, for instance the ongoing cases of exploitation of the poor through the money for prayer programs by charlatan prophets, the state is justified to intervene. However, the church and government in Zimbabwe have given each other free license to abuse the masses unchecked.

Virtues we most need

Honesty can impact positively on the lives of Christians. Also, the cost and consequences of dishonesty as in the case of the dishonest steward (Luke. 16: 1-14) should be highlighted during Christian teachings. It should be taught that honesty is an important ingredient in moving the nation forward while dishonesty is capable of destroying a nation.

A vital virtue needed by the church to transform the society is love. Zimbabweans are so polarised with regards party politics and much love and national reconciliation is needed right now. Love is seen as the strong feeling expressed for someone. The position of the Bible on love is very clear as can be seen from the teachings of the Good Samaritan (Luke. 10: 25-37), Lazarus and the Richman (Lk. 16: 19-31) and the declaration of love as the greatest commandment (Rom. 13:8-18 and 1 Cor. 13: 1-3). If the church will put the love of God and love for one another into practice, it will greatly help the nation in its development efforts.

Righteousness

Righteousness or holiness is yet another Christian virtue which is capable of moving the nation forward. The Bible encourages righteousness or holiness; hence the teachings of the church should essentially be doing what is right. For God says righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov. 1:7). Also, the church of God should teach the fear of God which is the “Beginning of Wisdom” (Prov. 1:7) as its cardinal doctrine while dealing with believers. Examples abound in the Bible of the huge rewards for those who feared God and kept His commandments in the past. For example, Abraham, the son of Terah, who feared and obeyed God, was said to be righteous (Gen. 22:12). If the fear of God were in our leaders (both religious and secular) and citizens as well, there would be peace and progress in the country.

This is one virtue the church must imbibe in the society especially the politicians if we must achieve good governance in Zimbabwe.

After all is said and done, history will record that Pastor Evan Mawarire, stood against the repression of the people of Zimbabwe, he did not incite violence. He did not subvert a constitutional elected government, but he inspired the masses to arise and say no to subjugation and oppression.