HARARE – Church leaders have appealed to President Robert Mugabe to “admit to God he has failed” and initiate the reconciliation process by opening up dialogue.
The clergymen — Ancelimo Magaya, Kudakwashe Makuwe, Useni Sibanda, and Tedious Munemo — made the remarks in an open letter to the 92-year-old leader.
This comes amid escalating civil unrest and protests against Mugabe — Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence from Britain 36 years ago and his government.
The quintet, drawn from different church organisations, said they were concerned about the deteriorating political situation in the country.
“(We) do call upon you president to humbly admit before God and the Zimbabwean populace that the country is in a dire situation that requires an extraordinary collective response to rescue it from a total collapse that may trigger a regrettable spontaneous civil unrest. (We are) concerned about the socio-economic crisis that has reached levels that threaten survival of the hapless masses and ultimately peace of the nation,” the church leaders said.
“We also want to appeal to your conscience to repent before God for having presided over massacres in Matabeleland during mid-1980s, maimings, torture, abductions and killings that have become a part of your government. On the basis of the prophetic mandate endued on the Church, we warn that God’s judgment is imminent if you will not repent,” the group said.
They added: “(We are) disturbed by the increasingly restive populace and the brutal show of force by state machinery.”
The men of the cloth called for national dialogue and the immediate cessation of police brutality on long-suffering citizens who are expressing genuine grievances.
“If you fail to address these issues by September 28, we will be forced to exercise our democratic right to petition Parliament to impeach you,” the pastors said.
“Also, be reminded of the word of God which says that He will punish the children because of the sins of their fathers down to the third and fourth generations. We pray that your children will come to the knowledge of the Lord so that they escape from the curse associated with your sins.”
Churches in Zimbabwe have for long kept their distance from politics, insisting that their role was only to preach.
However, recently, church leaders have begun to interrogate the political, economic and social problems that are rocking the country.
Although the Church has played an active role in efforts to defuse and resolve the Zimbabwean crisis, the effectiveness of its engagement has been limited by a number of challenges.
Over the years, the government has been quick to respond to criticism by church leaders by promoting the visibility of others who are more favourable to it.