CHURCH leaders from the various local Christian denominations have called on government to implement key constitutional and policy frameworks to arrest the continuing deterioration of the economic, political and social situation in the country.
The Christian leaders, who operate under the banner of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, include the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference and the Union for Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe. They issued a communiqué on Monday bemoaning the current “protracted economic, political and social crisis, characterised by polarisation, intolerance to opposing political views and ideologies, intra and inter party fighting and succession issues, further weakening the political discourse.”
“On the economic front, recovery is severely challenged by reduced industrial productivity, poor delivery of basic social services at local level and corruption that has escalated to the point where it is affecting aggregate economic growth. Socially, the country continues to experience a rise in unemployment which is contributing to increase in poverty level and the widening of the inequality gap,” reads part of the communiqué titled: The Zimbabwe We Want – Taking the process forward.
According to the churches, the current socio-political and economic crisis can only be resolved through the swift implementation of key features of the 2013 constitution, which provide for among other things, the setting up of essential constitutional commissions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, Land Commission, and to effectively resource the National Human Rights Commission.
The churches alluded to the state’s culture of human rights violations particularly from the onset of the 2000 land reform programme which saw thousands of commercial farmers being forced off their land without compensation.
They called on government to rectify the consequent international isolation and punitive sanctions imposed on the country through “building bridges with the international community by addressing issues that caused the strained relations and lobbying for the removal of sanctions such as ZIDERA (the Zimbabwe Democracy Act passed in 2001 by the United States).
“The government should also rectify the violations to bi-Lateral agreements,” they said.
In addition, the churches said government must expedite the process of repaying its debts in order to be able to access fresh lines of credit seen as crucial for economic recovery.