| May 2001
... that the nation is not held to ransom by a few: Pastoral Letter by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference
TOLERANCE AND HOPE
The Lord God created the human person, male and female, in his own image.
He gave them a dignity, which is above all creatures. Each person, whether old
or young, poor or rich, has got the right to it and society with all its
various organizations must recognize and uphold this dignity. No government or
political party can appropriate it but must recognize, uphold and protect this
human dignity which is God-given.
In our country the holders of
political power, including those claiming to be Christians, do tend to abuse
their fellow human beings. They just use them to achieve their own political
ends and then dump them afterwards. A person is only useful as long as he is a
means to their political ambitions. A human being is reduced to a thing that
one uses and in fact abuses. A case in point is the way political figures and
political parties have used our unemployed youth during election times.
Violence, intimidation and threats are the tools of failed politicians. We
must point out to them that they are engaging in an unjust activity.
As your pastors, dear brothers and sisters, we call upon you to uphold the
dignity and sacredness of each person. We would like to underline the fact that
it is an inherent right of the person to take part in the political activities
of his or her society. In dialogue with other members of society he or she will
advance her political views or opinions. Society has the obligation to ensure
that each member is free to express his or her political views without fear of
being victimized. Political ideas or views are man made and therefore tend to
vary with times, places, and situations. Frustration of this basic right of the
person leads to turmoil in society. It impedes the harmonious development of
the person and of society as a whole. In fact in a society such as ours, which
is multi-cultural and multi-racial, we will always differ in opinions, and
therefore we call upon every citizen to exercise a very high degree of
The lack of this tolerance is clearly evidenced by the
violence that continues to grip our country. It is a shame that we who claim to
be modern resort to violence in order to advance our political ideas. We have
witnessed with sadness the loss of human life and the destruction of property
due to differences in political views or opinions. We Zimbabweans fought for
justice, peace, democracy and economic well being of all our people. Each
Zimbabwean has a right to security of life and property and no politician has a
right to deprive any person of this right. Public offices are supposed to serve
the common good. We pay tribute to all those politicians and public officers
who take seriously their role in working for the welfare of all. However we
note with sadness that in many cases public officers come to be associated with
self enrichment and corruption. There is need for transparency and
accountability in public office. Allegations of corruption in such institutions
as NOCZIM, GMB, War Victims Fund and so forth have undermined the government's
moral ground from which it should operate. Those who have a case to answer
should be brought to court.
The activities of war veterans, in both
urban and rural areas, are not solving problems in the proper manner. The
closure of local government offices have denied essential social services to
the people. It is the duty of government to ensure that the nation is not held
to ransom by a few. We urge the government to allow the law enforcement agents
to perform their duties without interference so that there is a sense of
security in the country. Let us remind each other of the fact that no one
person or group of persons liberated this country alone. The great majority of
Zimbabweans because of their love of freedom and sense of justice liberated it
through their sacrifices. We believe that what was true in the hard sixties and
seventies, that people loved freedom and justice, is still true today.
The one pressing issue which must be settled urgently, in fact it should
have been settled long ago, is the question of land. We acknowledge that there
is an urgent need of economic reform to redress the imbalances that exist in
our society today where we have 75% of our population living under the
poverty-datum-line. Unfortunately, the distribution of land has been marred by
violence, deaths and intimidation. The programme of land distribution should
target the people who are really in need of it. We should be careful not to
create more injustices in the process of addressing legitimate concerns. It is
also important that the farm labourers are catered for in the exercise.
Priority should also be given to the setting up of infrastructure and providing
resources. Small scale farmers have proved that they can contribute
meaningfully to the economy of the country.
The problems of a
developing society are immense. No one person or party has all the answers. We
need national dialogue. We need to listen to what all groups in society have to
say. All citizens must be allowed to speak freely what their concerns are,
fathers and mothers, farmers and industrial workers, the young starting out in
life and the old who have seen life and its troubles.
dialogue, the media - both print and electronic - should help facilitate. To do
this the media and media workers must be allowed to work in an atmosphere of
freedom. There must not be any threats of physical violence against them.
Communicators must be committed to searching for the truth and the truth
alone while respecting the dignity and integrity of every man, woman and child,
and no one must hinder them in their task. Media must serve society as a whole,
not just the narrow interests of the ruling party and government of the day or
of the business sector alone. We need genuinely public broadcasting,
complemented by competing broadcasters speaking for different groups in
society. We therefore call upon all the media to help in the nation building
process and not to fan violence in their coverage of events.
health delivery system is seriously affecting the majority of our people who
are already suffering from the harsh economic environment. Our health
institutions cannot even procure some essential drugs. We therefore urge our
government to make enough financial resources available to the health sector.
The reality of HIV/Aids pandemic is adding to the misery of our
families and society as a whole. This really calls for behaviour change in our
attitude towards morality and for Christian principles of abstinence before
marriage and faithfulness in marriage to be observed. In the present situation
of social strife, political stalemate and economic decline, we should not lose
hope. We should have Hope in God and in the gifts and talents he has given us.
During this Easter season we celebrate that Jesus Christ conquered sin and
death. This is our source of hope that we too, through his power, will overcome
the problems and challenges that face the nation now. The first thing is that
each Zimbabwean should seriously examine himself or herself and honestly admit
to themselves what they contribute to the present situation of insecurity and
fear. The will to build Zimbabwe for all of us is still there, and God who gave
us victory in the past is still present and with us. It is through dialogue,
tolerance and confidence in the power of God that we will come to build this
nation as a family.
In unity we freed ourselves and today once more we
need that unity: unity of purpose and vision, in spite of different ideas of
how best to achieve our goal. This means we should be ready and willing to
accommodate different views and really tolerate different viewpoints. There is
no single Zimbabwean with the monopoly of truth. We need each person's
contribution in order to really build up a true Zimbabwe. No person should be
excluded from positively making a meaningful contribution to nation building.
Let our common enemy be poverty, disease and ignorance, not fellow citizens.
Let us unite our efforts to defeat those enemies and we shall earn our rightful
place in the family of nations. We, the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe, urge the
government, the private sector and indeed all the people of Zimbabwe to make
every effort to foster this culture of tolerance and to work for unity to
rebuild our nation. St. Paul tells us that Christ's church is a single body
with many parts (1.Cor.12:12f). Similarly as a nation we are one body with many
parts, therefore whatever one part does affects the whole.
F. Chakaipa, Archbishop of Harare
+ Pius A. V. Ncube, Archbishop of
+ Alexio C. Muchabaiwa, Bishop of Mutare (ZCBC President)
Francis Mugadzi, Bishop of Gweru
+ Helmut Reckter SJ, Bishop of Chinhoyi
+ Michael D.Bhasera,Bishop of Masvingo (ZCBC Vice President)
C. Ndlovu, Bishop of Hwange
+ Angel Floro SMI, Bishop of Gokwe
Patrick M. Mutume, Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare