I REFER to a letter in the last issue of the Zimbabwe Independent (July 25-31) by Collen Ngundu who wrote:
Â “I truly believe if these men of God had boldly voiced the economic and social hardships…their voices would have been heard by the concerned parties.”
As a matter of fact, individual churches as well as all the churches together have voiced their grave concern about the suffering of the people many times.
I may only mention the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Pastoral Letter of Easter 2007 God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed and the working paper The Zimbabwe We Want published by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship, and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference together.
There were many more such statements, even in recent months. Only in their most recent joint statement the church leaders expressed their conviction that the outcome of the most recent poll was not an authentic expression of the will of the people.
It is also a fact that such statements, against Ngunduâ€™s naive assumption, are not “heard by the concerned parties”.
When the Catholic Bishops published their analysis of the present situation in God Hears the Cry of the Opressed it was called “political nonsense” and they were threatened because of their boldness.
Here is the decisive passage in that pastoral letter: “Because soon after Independence, the power and wealth of the tiny white Rhodesian elite was appropriated by an equally exclusive black elite, some of whom have governed the country for the past 27 years through political patronage, black Zimbabweans today fight for the same basic rights they fought for during the liberation struggle.
“It is the same conflict between those who possess power and wealth in abundance, and those who do not; between those who are determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost, even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights and a share in the fruits of Independence; between those who continue to benefit from the present system of inequality and injustice, because it favours them and enables them to maintain an exceptionally high standard of living, and those who go to bed hungry at night and wake up in the morning to another day without work and without income; between those who only know the language of violence and intimidation, and those who feel they have nothing more to lose because their constitutional rights have been abrogated and their votes rigged.”
Fr Oskar Wermter SJ,