Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Zimbabwe, Votes and Faith

Another election and another crisis. The election results are being challenged in Zimbabwe. The President appears to have lost the election, he and his Party refuse to step down and the region awaits another humanitarian crisis.

One of the problems is the delay in even announcing the election results. So, anticipating conflict the churches of the region have come together to avert or at least diminish suffering.

The Christian Alliance which is a coalition of churches in Zimbabwe has called for a peaceful resolution to the election conflict. The coalition has been joined by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe.

The President is aware of the influence of the churches and has attempted to garner their support. This include calling for the “Africanzation” of the churches. The Catholic Church has been an outspoken advocate for democracy in the country. In fact Archbishop of Bulawayo, Mgr Pius Ncube had routinely criticized the administration for election and human right violations. .

This disruption could not have come at a worse time. The country is in economic crisis. 80% of the workforce is underemployed. Even before this conflict CAFOD had been struggling to maintain its stockpiles of food used to aid the hungry.

The Catholic Church in the region has prepared for an humanitarian crisis and is anticipating a refugee problem. Related agencies that have coordinated their services include: the Refugee Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, the Catholic Relief Services and the Jesuit Refugee Service. The Catholic Healthcare Association (CATHCA) also focused on finding emergency medical personnel.

The people in Zimbabwe feel isolated from the rest of the world. it is important that they know they are supported. This must come from our prayers but also through our wallets in the form of aid to the involved agencies. Our Representatives must also know that the safety of the people in Zimbabwe is important to us. We must not be silent or passive.

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