Catholic Bishops yesterday said the unresolved August 2023 election dispute has plunged the lives of ordinary citizens into disarray, amid a deepening economic meltdown where the majority is struggling to put food on the table.
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has refused to accept the results of the August 2023 harmonised elections in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner.
Chamisa, who recently dumped the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), theparty he led to elections citing infiltration by Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF, argued that the poll was a “gigantic fraud”.
In their message to mark the beginning of the Catholic Church Lenten season, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) highlighted a growing fear among the citizens of authoritarian rule under a one-party State.
This comes after Zanu-PF secured a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly following a series of recalls of CCC legislators by self-imposed interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.
“The unresolved political contests since the August 2023 elections have not left the country in a good space. Locally, there are fears among people that we are moving towards a one-party State, with democracy dying a slow death.”
The bishops added: “Regionally, there remains a belief that we can resolve these political challenges if we are willing to put our heads together as people of goodwill.”
The ZCBC said Zimbabwe continued to suffer from the displacement of families due to the non-performance of the economy. The decision by the government to raise taxes at a time when ordinary people can hardly afford a meal a day has worsened the family situation, they said, adding that it had become unbearably expensive for the poor and elderly to live due to a sharp increases in the price of basic commodities.
The Catholic bishops said most of the challenges were a result of “bad politics” where leaders were implementing failing policies.
“Whereas some of these ills are a result of natural disasters, most of them are man-made and are not accidental. Poverty in the world is a direct result of political and economic policies of governments, political parties and big businesses.
“It is a result of policies and systems. In the light of bad politics, failed economic systems and their devastating effects, many people are in despair.”
They said the people felt let down by their leaders and institutions hence they were losing hope.
“It is this loss of hope that can be damning, for as they say, ‘If you have no hope, you have no reason to live.’ It is in a people plunged into despair, a world characterised by the ‘deficit of hope,’ that the Holy Father suggests a year of prayer, that the Synod urges us to continue walking together. Prayer is not an escape from what we see. It is a way of finding solutions to challenges we are grappling with.”
Posting on X (formerly Twitter) yesterday, Chamisa also said the economic challenges afflicting the country were a result of the disputed August 2023 polls.
“The consequences of broken politics… Within a space of just a month, the economy has registered the following disturbing developments: 1. The budget for a family of five has doubled from around ZWL$3 million in December 2023 to ZWL$6,2 million per month in January 2024.
“2. The value of the national budget has been halved within a month after the official exchange depreciated by more than 100% — incapacitating the Government of Zimbabwe from meeting critical payments. 3. Annual inflation rose by about 323 percentage points to hit 1 347% in the first week of February 2024. All these are symptoms of fraudulent elections, disputed national processes and broken politics.”
The bishops also expressed concern over a rising ungodly society.
“The challenge with our modern society is that we have become so secular that we envision a world without God. We have relegated God to the fringes of our world.
“We worry about God’s world and its problems, and we are seeking solutions to it that do not involve God. We now have more faith in the things of God, and we have forgotten the one who gives us those things.”