CATHOLIC Bishops in Zimbabwe have decried what they are terming a “new form” of post-election violence characterized by “recalls of the elected” political candidates in the Southern African nation.
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) recalled 33 elected Senators and Members of Parliament (MPs) for allegedly being impostors in the opposition party.
In a Tuesday, November 21 statement, members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) say that CCC’s action is an “act of robbing people of their voices” and that it “is a form of violence that should be condemned by all people of integrity, by all loving and peaceful citizens.”
“With the recent political recalls of the elected members of parliament, senators, and councillors, the nation has been thrust into a new form of violence: people rightfully elected can wantonly be recalled,” the Catholic Bishops lament.
They further lament, “It would seem the voices of the people who voted can easily be ignored as if they are insignificant. Were those elected not given the mandate by the people? What happens when the people’s voices are silenced by the masters of political expediency?”
Apart from holding the nation “in the dreaded perpetual election mode,” the recalls of elections political candidates “have given birth to violence,” ZCBC members say.
They add, “Even those who, for a short while, had shunned violence, have fallen back on their default position of violent campaigns. People are being abducted, brutalized, and left for dead.”
On November 13, Tapfumaneyi Masaya, a CCC member, was found dead following his abduction.
In their pastoral statement, Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe say the nation has also witnessed “retributions targeting those who were perceived to have voted wrongly, whatever that means!”
These political happenings have made the people feel they are not listened to and that they are not respected, they further lament.
“This breeds tensions and many who have no way of diffusing them bottle them up. This is not healthy for people and society. If it is true that, ‘an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us,’ then we are all living in a wounded society,” the Catholic Church leaders say.
They call on Zimbabweans “to work for the promotion of peace and to be agents of peace.”
“Lack of peace has a negative effect on our country,” ZCBC members say, and continue, “Economically, it works against all our ideals of a middle-income economy and the realization of vision 2030.”
Socially, they add, lack of peace “breeds animosity and creates a divided nation. Spiritually, it robs us of our identity as the sons and daughters of God.”
ZCBC members urge politicians to condemn politically motivated violence. They ask legislators in the country to “revisit the enacted laws that can easily be manipulated at the expense of the people’s basic rights and freedoms.”
The Catholic Church leaders also urge law enforcement agents to bring perpetrators of political violence to book.