29/11/2008

The Role Of The Church And Its Voice In Zim Today


A woman begs in Harare, Daily Telegraph
The article spoke of the coming anarchy - August 2007


An edited version of Bishop Bakare's speech to a Human Rights Conference in Lulea, Sweden, on being awarded the Per Anger prize for Human rights.
I AM someone who was very much involved in the liberation of our country of
Zimbabwe from colonial rule.

In 1980 when we became independent, we were convinced that the process to become a democratic state had already started but we have since become known as a nation that denies basic democratic principles and human rights.

For more than 20 years, Zimbabwe’s main challenges have been economic and political, and especially the abuse of power by those in political leadership positions.

There is a school of thought which argues that such challenges are technical and all that is needed are technical experts to fix Zimbabwe’s social and political systems.
Indeed technical experts are needed and can help find solutions to salvage our
nation from this chronic mismanagement of our national resources.

But a serious observer of the situation in Zimbabwe will soon find
out that the social, economic and political challenges we have today are only
the tip of the iceberg. We have a very deep spiritual and moral crisis in
Zimbabwe which explains why our nation has become so corrupt and thrives on
political patronage. This has resulted in a society marred by all forms of
injustice without due regard for human dignity. We have:
  • A society whose political system promotes lawlessness, violence, harassment and denial of food to the hungry;
  • A nation with many displaced persons –– now around 500 000 in number;
  • A political system that has total disregard for democratic principles as became obvious in the recent elections and
  • in short: a system that has robbed its people of their human rights.

    Christians understand human rights as a God-given gift. Every person has a right
    to live a meaningful and purposeful life including the right to food, shelter,
    healthcare, employment and education –– all these rights are being violated in
    Zimbabwe. Here lies the basis of our challenge –– it is both spiritual and
    moral.

...

The voice of the church appears to be submerged by other noises which include violence, intimidation, arrests and other forms of harassment. The voice of the church has not been loud enough to condemn such behaviour.

Some clergy who have tried to speak out against the unjust political system have been seriously warned and often silenced. The church runs 80% of the schools in the nation. But of late children have not been going to school or teachers have refused to teach them because of poor wages paid by the government, and again the church has remained silent where it had the right to speak out as a partner in education.

Similarly the church has traditionally had a strong commitment to health but has not condemned the total collapse of the health sector with major hospitals being closed down. Should we in the church turn a blind eye to such an appalling state of affairs? Indeed many people begin to ask: What is the role of the church? Is it to support the government regardless of bad governance and economic mismanagement? Certainly not!

The church has a prophetic ministry to offer, and this is not usually popular with those in power.

...

All here.




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