HARARE – Bible believing Christians in Zimbabwe, representing their different theological, liturgical and organisational church traditions and systems, share a common interest when it comes to the forthcoming general elections.
They are concerned that persons who will be elected to occupy offices responsible with providing leadership and management at these highest policy formulation and decision-making levels in our nation should be men and women who fear and honour Jehovah Father God as well as promote ‘Christianity,Unhu,Ubuntu values’ (CHU-VALUES) (Ephesians 5:8-13; Matthew 5:13-16).
The serious Christians votes, above all else, must be votes for Jehovah Father God, justice, peace, goodness, righteousness and truth against spiritual and moral darkness.
In my view the document entitled The Zimbabwe We Want produced by Zimbabwean churches a few years ago adequately summarises CHU-VALUES that political candidates should subscribe to in order to deserve the serious Christian voter’s vote and every serious Zimbabwean Christian voter should use the contents of this document as a basis from which to formulate guidelines to check out which candidate deserves your vote.
To ensure only candidates who deserve the Christian voter’s vote get it, it will be important that Christians do not vote in a way that is determined by political party affiliation only.
If a candidate representing your preferred party in your constituency is likely to promote policies and practices that threaten CHU-VALUES and his or her rival does then the serious Christian voter should consider dumping their preferred party’s candidate and vote for the other candidate.
It will be important that Christians do not vote only on the basis of our past voting habits or our family’s traditional voting patterns either.
With time and experience of power, which has a great potential to corrupt people, politicians and political parties tend to deviate from sincerely pursuing earlier more noble agendas that seek to serve people and not to be exploit and be served by them towards self-serving and self-seeking agendas.
The reality of the matter is that whereas in the past it was generally the case that people entered politics with a view to transform society the situation today is so different with the greater number of politicians going into politics to pursue a personal political career or ‘to make money’.
Over the past few years I have personally come across many older politicians who have been corrupted by power and its trappings and younger ones who are motivated by personal ambition and opportunities to make money that come with the role.
For this reason, past personal or family voting habits are not an adequate guide for serious the Christian voter.
What is of importance is to carefully check out each candidate’s position on certain non-negotiable CHU-VALUES and vote for such even if it may mean voting for ‘the other party’.
The serious Christian vote should not be attracted only by a candidate’s personality, appearance or their slick ability to respond to journalists’ questions and pose for the camera.
We have all seen and listened to political candidates with attractive looks, compelling arguments and addictive political clichés yet supportive of policies and programmes that promote moral decay.
On the other hand we have all seen and listened to political candidates who may have looked dull, plain, uninspiring and perhaps even nervous before journalists and cameras yet supportive of policies and programs aligned to Christian,Unhu,Ubuntu values’.
Christians should not apologise for judging the political candidate not by his/her intellectual or communication acumen only but also by his/her spiritual and moral content.
Even those candidates who publicly declare themselves to be Christians should be checked out because many of them do not subscribe to Christian,Unhu,Ubuntu values’ with conviction but rather superficially self-describe themselves as Christians and attend church gatherings simply to woo the Christian vote.
If however there is no candidate who satisfies checks based on CHU-VALUES, it is better to vote for a candidate who presents the best option in terms of the promotion of that which is in the sustainable best interests of the majority of Zimbabweans rather than not voting at all.
In addition to Christian voter guidelines based on the ‘Zimbabwe We Want’ there are many other non-negotiable CHU-VALUES such as upholding the sanctity of life in a way that outlaws abortion on demand and promotes capital punishment for murderers, the upholding of the sanctity of heterosexual marriage in a way that outlaws homosexual unions, the promotion of personal and corporate integrity and ethics which outlaws and punishes corruption etc.
One such non-negotiable value which we often overlook when checking out candidates is the upholding of the fear of God, God’s relationship with the human being and the fact that the human being is made in God’s image as the ultimate foundation of human rights.
Alternatively the ultimate foundation of human rights is taken to be human beings viewed as existing apart from and without God (autonomous humanity).
This view insists that the essence of being an individual human being lies in one’s freedom to do whatever one pleases and that the individual is really free when he/she is free to exercise freedom to do whatever he/she desires as this kind of freedom is the most precious human value.
This view of the ultimate foundation of human rights which focuses on the protection and promotion of the individual’s freedoms regrettably promotes highly individualistic, indifferent and selfishness-ridden communities made up of people who are not ready to assume responsibilities and obligations to promote the common good.
This view of human rights often serves hypocritical views and inspires double standards that employ the concept of human rights as a weapon to demonise, occupy or use weapons of mass destruction against smaller nations on the part of mightier nations who themselves abuse the same rights.
I was told about a human rights law professor in some European university who was part of a United Nations international commission on human rights that repeatedly submitted damning reports on Cuba’s human rights situations, based on views of Cubans in the Diaspora, to the general assembly of the United Nations, yet, based on this professor’s confession, none of the commissioners themselves ever set foot in Cuba.
Zimbabweans are well too aware of self-described human rights campaigners in politics, labour organisations, churches and civic organisations whose tyrannical and self-aggrandising life-styles expose them for what they really are.
A wrong foundation for human rights promotes double standards and hypocrisy in their practice.
When, on the other hand, human rights are anchored in the dignity of each human being which is grounded in God’s relationship with human beings, human rights instead of promoting individualistic selfishness and indifference, tend to focus more on each person’s responsibilities and obligations to treat fellow human beings such that they may attain the highest levels of human dignity and fulfilment.
God commands every person to acknowledge and recognise the other person’s God-given dignity and to treat them as such.
Anchoring human rights in the fear of God and in His relationship with the human being created in God’s image will most adequately, consistently and sustainably protect and promote civil and political rights enshrined in the bill of rights in the Zimbabwean constitution beyond any political party manifesto to do so.
Check out the candidate’s foundation for human rights carefully before you decide he/she deserves your serious Christian vote.
* Noah Pashapa PhD; Bishop: Life and Liberty Churches International; Executive Chairman: Zimbabwe Prison Ministries Africa; Chairman: Zimbabwe Faith and Ethics Association; Executive Chairman: Africa Correctional Chaplains Association; Lecturer: Africa Leadership and Management Academy (firstname.lastname@example.org)