Church hopes for better 2021

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By Tariro Sajeni

THE Church hopes to play a leading role in nation building and peace this year as the country continues to battle political polarisation, a subdued economy and a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Daily News on Sunday reports.

For the better part of 2020, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) tried hard to ensure the country’s two biggest political parties — Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa — engaged in national dialogue to end the current political crisis.

Zimbabwe also plunged into hyperinflation during the first months of last year and the situation was expedited by the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19.

The economy showed signs of stability in the final quarter after the government introduced a raft of measures, including an official foreign currency auction system, banning of agent lines on mobile money transfer platforms and dual listing of counters on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

With most Zimbabweans looking for a better 2021, ZCC general secretary Kenneth Mtata yesterday said the Church would need to be more pragmatic in dealing with the country’s myriad of challenges.

“The prospect of the national progress towards genuinely united, peaceful, just and prosperous Zimbabwe depends on the quality of the public sphere and the church must not just hide behind the pulpit, but embrace its public mandate,” he said.

“In 2021 the Church will be one key player in the public sphere. Spurred by its moral and spiritual obligation, the Church carries out its ministry in the public without fear or favour, but in awareness of accountability to God. So, help us God!

Mtata added: “The Church has a pastoral, priestly and prophetic role in the public sphere, it encourages the people who are discouraged and heal those who are wounded through words and actions.

“In its priestly role, the Church facilitates the worship life of the Church. It points citizens to the one who is truly God. The Church shows the citizens why only God is the ultimate and no other human powers. This protects citizens from idols.

“In its prophetic role, the Church educates citizens for active citizenship. It critically cooperates with the State and other actors towards creating the common good. It speaks and acts against all injustices. It identifies with the

Mtata said the country was still suffering from mistrust between the public, the State and other key political players, which remains a huge stumbling block towards national building.

He also noted the hatred and polarisation consuming Zimbabweans on social media. “In 2020, the churches I work with immensely contributed to food relief, health and education services, provision of clean water, created space for citizens’ public policy dialogues, engaged the government and political parties on the national question.

“It was clear that the levels of mistrust dominate how we engage in the public. This made cooperation almost impossible among key stakeholders. There seems to be little investment into building trust but rather power consolidation.”4

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