“No longer will violence be heard in your land………Isiah 60:18”
1. The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) continues to note with deep concern a surge in
systematic political violence, repression, hate speech and arbitrary arrests in the country. ZHOCD is an ecumenical
umbrella body, comprising the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC), the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) and the Union for the Development of the Apostolic and Zionist Churches in Zimbabwe Africa (UDACIZA). The Church, an extension of the teachings and salvation of Christ, condemns these devastating cases of violence and brutality,
2. The ZHOCD noted the recent incident of political violence that rocked Ward 4 Bunhu area in Murehwa where a total of 7 people reportedly affiliated to the opposition party, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), were brutalized by a group of members representing another political Party,
3. On 18 January 2023, representatives of the ZHOCD leadership paid a pastoral visit to Murehwa where they met 6 of the 7 victims of political violence. The leadership received accounts of the brutal and lethal attacks to these elderly people. Besides being a blatant violation of citizens constitutional rights, these attacks go against our social, cultural and moral norms regarding the honor and respect that must be given to the elderly in our communities, most of who were in the forefront of the war of liberation from white colonial oppression only to face the same from their kith and kin and politically misguided youth.
4. The Murehwa incident of political violence connects with episodes of violence, victimization, humiliation, intimidation, assault, and destruction of property that characterized the 2022 by-elections. In 2022, cases were reported in Gutu, Matobo South Ward 2, Nyatsime, Chiredzi, Nyamaropa, Hurungwe, Gokwe Centre and Gokwe Kabuyini.
5. Similarly, the Church is following closely cases of hate speech that catalyse violence and undermines cohesion and
tolerance in the country. In October 2022, during a political rally in Mberengwa, a top official and Member of Parliament was on record threatening that “2023 will be worse than the 2008 presidential election run-off.” If more of such hate speech is tolerated, indeed, we are likely to see the repeat of the unforgettable blood shed of 2008.
6. Moreover, the ZHOCD is concerned with political related cases in Courts and ongoing arbitrary political arrests in the country, largely targeting members of the Opposition Political Parties. Cases in point is that of Zengeza West Member of Parliament, Job Sikhala, and recent arrests of 26 members, including a minor, elderly people and 2 Members of Parliament, affiliated to the Opposition Political Party, Citizen Coalition for Change, in Budiriro.
Now therefore, the Church, in its moral and theological authority,
7. Deeply expresses disappointment and condemns all these forms of political violence, inhumane treatment, political persecution, and arbitrary arrests of fellow Zimbabweans. In relation to the elderly, God commanded that, ..“honor your father and mother so that we may live long in the land he gave us.…(exodus 20 vs 12)”. The Church appeals to every Zimbabwean and all political players to uphold the sanctity of human life.
8. Calls the Government of Zimbabwe to promote the fundamental values enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 and demonstrate sufficient good will to its full implementation,
9. Demands all Political Party leaders to publicly condemn their supporters and leaders who are perpetrating violence. Political leaders are called to take concrete actions to foster unity, peace and an end to all forms of violence. These should include publicly sharing measures of disciplinary committees that help account for perpetrators of political violence.
10. Informs the nation that we do not believe in arbitrary arrests and abuse of the Judiciary. The Church’s call is for our institutions of the state to deliver justice impartially, safeguard human rights and the rule of law. All known perpetrators of violence must be arrested and tried irrespective of their political affiliation.
11. Implores the State to adhere to the Regional and International Conventions such as the African Charter on
Democracy and Governance (ACDG) and the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections which promote the realization of free, fair and credible elections,
12. Encourages the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to strengthen multi-party liaison committees and ensure swift response, robustness and effectiveness in addressing political and electoral related violence,
13. Implores the Zimbabwe Republic Police and all other state security agencies to impartially enforce the law on offenders and perpetrators of violence. All cases of violence must be handled with a sense of urgency and impartiality to ensure that justice is delivered for all, and peace is fostered before, during and after the 2023 elections. The call is for the security agencies to impartially and maximally uphold citizens’ basic human rights in the discharge of their duties and in their collective and relentless pursuit of justice, peace and national security.