The Church in Zimbabwe has offered to mediate between government and opposition leaders after six people were killed in violence that followed the disputed presidential election. Source: Crux.
“We have offered to mediate any election disputes as well as broader concerns,” Fr Frederick Chiromba, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, told CNS.
With their parish and other structures, Zimbabwe’s churches would be well positioned to lead the activities of the national peace and reconciliation process that began early this year, he said.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner but opposition leader Nelson Chamisa disputed the result and said he will challenge it in court.
Mr Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, after a military takeover in November.
“We condemn the killing of the demonstrators and all the ruthless force used” by the army and police, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe said after security forces in the capital, Harare, shot at protesters who accused the government of vote-rigging.
Noting that the use of live ammunition to restrain unarmed civilians was “too extreme” and violated basic rights, the commission also criticised the protesters for violence including destruction of property.
It urged the security forces to apologise, particularly to the bereaved families.
“Saying ‘sorry’ would open doors for healing and rebuilding of good relationships between citizens and their defence forces,” the commission said in an August 2 statement signed by commission chairman Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro of Gokwe.
Zimbabwe’s churches could mediate an “all-sides confidential dialogue,” the commission said, noting that “an inclusive, objective, internally constructed process” is needed to resolve the electoral conflict.
The challenges Zimbabwe faces “are much deeper than the elections,” Fr Chiromba said. “There is still a lack of trust between the people and government” at all levels and the country’s churches have “a big role to play in restoring that trust,” he said.
“If we can manage to move forward as one people,” much-needed development will follow, he said.