Churches in Zimbabwe advocate against violence

A demonstration by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, under the theme “The church says no to violence!” the image was widely shared on social media to advocate for peace. Photo: ZCC

Messages of peace and moderation after post-electoral clashes

(LWI) - Churches in Zimbabwe have spoken up against the shooting of unarmed protesters after the elections. “The last few weeks made all of us proud Zimbabweans, that we could actually run an election that was violence free,” Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ), a Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member church, said. “Our short-lived excitement has been shattered today because of the violence we saw in the streets of Harare.”

On Monday 30 July, Zimbabwe held its first free elections after the almost 30 years rule of Robert Mugabe. On Wednesday 1 August, six people were killed in violent clashes. Protests continue as the election results were announced on 3 August 2018.

Pray for peace

As a nation, Zimbabwe needed to pray for peace upon the land, ZCC General Secretary Mtata said. “We pray that God may sustain the peace God had given us during the period running to the elections.” Political leaders needed to influence the values that guided the way people exercised their rights, particularly that people could exercise their right to vote in a non-violent way. The state needed to restrain itself from using excessive force so that no young person was hurt or killed.

Mtata said Zimbabwe needed to build a long table at which all Zimbabweans could sit together and discuss the deep issues that affect Zimbabwe. “What is really required in the long-run, if we going to have a deep cohesion among Zimbabweans, is to address the deep-seated anger, frustration and dissatisfaction on our land, which get an opportunity to manifest in such violence whenever there is an opportunity.”

Letter of solidarity

The LWF has sent a letter of solidarity to the ELCZ. “We weep for the victims and their families, we weep for the apparent fragility of the democratic process and pray that the strong hope and desire of the Zimbabwean people to see their country flourishing after a long period of suffering will soon be a reality with the contribution of each member of the society, regardless of political identity,” LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge wrote.

He emphasized however how encouraging it was to see the ELCZ through the ZCC strongly advocate against violence and for peace. “This is a sign of strong commitment that the church has to continue proclaiming,” Junge further writes. “We continue to walk with you and all the people of Zimbabwe in prayers for peace and stability in the country in order for all to enjoy the fruits of their land.”