The church in Zimbabwe has offered somewhat of a response after the violence which rocked the country during the #Shutdown Zimbabwe demonstrations called last week the by Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). However, some citizens have bemoaned the fact that the response from the church glosses over the senseless brutality and excessive force used by the government. The consensus is the Church must call a spade a spade. The Mnangagwa government must be told to its face, to stop using excessive force. If truth is not spoken by the church, then who will?
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches has called for dialogue amongst all stakeholders in order to resolve the crisis. While the Catholic Church is proposing a government of national unity as a way out of the crisis.
Call for dialogue
President Mnangagwa is reported to have also called for dialogue, however, the MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is said to have demanded for the release of all political prisoners before he can dialogue.
Of concern is whether this proposed dialogue will alleviate the suffering of the masses? The crisis in Zimbabwe is akin to trying find a solution to a problem using the same failed tools, same failed manual and same old mindset.
Our economy is broken
We have a broken-down vehicle that won’t start, and we keep trying to get as many people into the vehicle hoping that it will start. Truth is it won’t start no matter how many people we load into it. The logical thing to do would be to open the hood check all the mechanical and electrical parts in the engine, fix the rot and check the fuel and perhaps we can get ignition.
Corruption, mismanagement and all the associated ills of bad governance have to be dealt with then progress will start to show. Our nation is burdened by the curse of corruption that is the cancer and base to our crisis.
The citizens are reacting and lashing out because they have been at the receiving end of abuse and have suffered long enough. The powers that be have maintained a tight grip of power by restricting information and violating human rights. The Church has largely neglected its role to hold the government to account and keep it in check with regards protecting human rights of the citizens.
A good religion encourages good citizenship
Over time all free governments must ultimately depend on the voluntary goodness and support of their citizens. As legendary statesman and political philosopher Edmund Burke said, “It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
To that end, good government protects religion and fosters religious freedom. And good religion encourages good citizenship and adherence to the law of the land.
It is a fact, indeed, that societies depend in large part upon religion and churches to establish moral order. Government can never build enough jails to house the criminals produced by a society lacking in morality, character, and faith. These attributes are better encouraged by religious observance than by legislative decree or police force. It is impossible for government to control the attitudes, desires, and hopes that spring from the human heart. And yet these are the seeds that grow into the conduct government must regulate.
The law written in the heart
I will end by sharing a scripture from the Holy Bible.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus contrasted the law written on the books with the law written in the heart.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21–22).
While governments enforce the law written on the books, religion teaches and encourages adherence to the law written in the heart. Those who abide the latter will seldom if ever violate the former.