‘Fragmented’ Zim churches under pressure to do more

Bishop Chad Gandiya

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
4 June 2014

Zimbabwe’s churches are under pressure to do more to help the nation’s citizens deal with the social, economic and political issues they face, and have been urged to prioritise the needs of the people over those of the country’s politicians.

Precious Shumba, a spokesperson for the Anglican Bishop Chad Gandiya, told SW Radio Africa that Zimbabwe’s churches have been deeply fragmented by political allegiance. He said this had resulted in the churches remaining “insignificant” in the country’s social landscape.

He was responding to comments made by the Roman Catholic pontiff Pope Francis on Monday, when he was addressing Zimbabwean Bishops in Rome. The Pope said he was aware that many Zimbabweans “have reached their human limit, and do not know where to turn” and urged Catholic Bishops in the country to help promote peace and unity.

“The Church in your country has stood fast with her people both before and after independence, now also in the years of overwhelming suffering as millions have left the country in frustration and desperation, as many lives have been lost, so many tears shed,” he said.

Shumba said Wednesday that the church has been “corrupted” by its political allegiances.

“The Church has fallen far short of giving spiritual guidance to the national leadership, in terms of raising critical value issues. They have left the politicians to abuse the citizens, and left the citizens at the mercy of an elite who are consuming all the resources,” Shumba said.

He added: “In terms of dealing with the national conflict, the church has not come out strongly against oppressive leadership and dictatorial tendencies by those wielding state power and authority, and this means citizens are feeling vulnerable.”

“The church has become so corrupted that it no longer speaks the language of the suffering masses, but speaks the language of the elites they are aligned to,” Shumba said.

Shumba called on the Church to unite in its purpose, saying there is a need to move the public discourse away from politics, and focus on the future of Zimbabweans.

“The best intervention at this stage would be consistent dialogue by churches, and bringing together their supporters and others to hold discourse, to find sustainable solutions to the economic crisis and public violence and more. Once the churches intervene to talk about how to help, then we are in for a dynamic change that will influence the nature of the national leaders,” Shumba said.

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