The Church of the Province of Central Africa
Diocese of Harare
The Bishop of Harare (CPCA) The Rt Rev Sebastian Bakare
P.O. Box HR 7331
19 March 2008
PASTORAL LETTER BEFORE ELECTIONS 2008.
We live in a world, nation and community where the worsening economic climate cries out for long term solutions. The questions range across personal, communal and national levels and one has to choose which one of these to tackle first. First we have to deal with the context in which we find ourselves today in Zimbabwe. We have to ask ourselves where we find the place of God in our story or what our perspective of Him is. Is he a God who cares, who defends the powerless, the exploited, the unjustly treated, the voiceless, the devastated – living in an economy that is in a mess? The second question is, “What does the future hold for us?” Can the future be guaranteed by mere political slogans and empty promises? A realistic future is only made possible by a realistic present. In the light of the present scarcity of essential commodities, only fools will be deceived into thinking that the future will bring a golden age without fundamental change.
Here the poor are getting poorer, not by the day but by the minute, and they cannot afford the daily soaring prices of essentials. On the other hand the rich are getting richer, capitalising on the situation, and they are very keen to see the economic environment remain unchanged. For such people a changed future is most unwelcome – they hold on fast to what they have, their motto being, “Never, never let go the bird that you have in your hand!” Those living in their “golden age” will tell you that they are working hard for a better future where everyone will benefit. We have heard that before and nothing has changed – except that living conditions have become even worse!
The sense of powerlessness and helplessness is the life experience of every Zimbabwean except the few who manipulate the situation to their own profit. The powerless are those economically sidelined, socially stigmatized, politically exploited – mere objects of those in power to be used, then disposed of at any time. Many Zimbabweans have deep feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration and there is a sense of resignation and pessimism. This state of affairs is dangerous because it defeats any positive sense of patriotism. It creates a people without a destiny, identity and mission. It creates a nation of political victims.
No political party can tell Zimbabweans what suffering is all about – we know all about it: displaced, unemployed, young and old, parents and children, employers and employees. All know the width, length and depth of what it is to live a life of scarcity and want. The wounds of suffering are deep and remain unhealed, located in the heart of every suffering Zimbabwean.
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I cannot evade the questions: “What is our role as Christians and Anglicans in the diocese of Harare? “What is our mission in this continually worsening situation?” Some have it within their power to influence the national situation positively – will you take a stand? Some may have influence in their communities or families. All of us can, at least, use the influence of our vote.
The ZEC advert says that all able bodied as well as physically challenged citizens have the right to vote. Voting is our civil right and indeed, obligation, as Christians. This is the only time that the powerless and helpless can exercise their power. There are so many reasons why people vote; their reasons are determined by what they lack – food, jobs, medication, security, peace and justice. Each one of us with the right to vote will vote in anticipation of a government one thinks will bring a better life; a government that will improve the quality of life, create fair and transparent laws respected by all; a government that makes people valued.
Before you cast your vote, think about these things and let your conscience guide you.
+ Sebastian Harare CPCA