Ahead of Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections on 30 July, Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops have urged the faithful not to vote for a particular government, or charismatic leader, but for a “particular type of society for ourselves and our children”.
In a pastoral letter entitled Opening a New Door the bishops write that since former President Robert Mugabe was ousted from power in November 2017 “a great and tangible sense of relief prevailed”.
“In the six months since those events, we have seen many reasons for hope,” the bishops write in their letter released earlier in July.
They praise interim President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for allowing the creation of a new space for political activity; for setting a new tone of freedom of speech and for promising free, fair, credible and undisputed elections with access for international observers.
However, the bishops noted concern over the unconstitutional mode of some of these changes, and in particular the continuing role of the military, which poses risks to the freedom of political processes.
In addition, they write, many Zimbabweans are expressing disappointment that hoped-for changes are yet to be felt – especially in accessing employment and cash.
Recognising that upcoming elections could either bring great hope or great disappointment, the bishops write that they are choosing to hope.
“It is true that elections are never, in themselves, the answers to problems. But, as part of a wider programme of transformation, they can be moments of national recommitment,” said the letter. “We believe, we hope and we pray, that the coming elections of 30 July 2018 will be such a moment for us all.”
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