Government condemns utterances by Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference

BY ZBC Reporter

Government has condemned the pastoral letter by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops led by Archbishop Christopher Ndlovu, saying the claims in the letter are false and seek to fan divisions in the country.

Responding to the Pastoral letter originated by Archbishop Christopher Ndlovu in which he encouraged Zimbabweans to stage anti-government protests, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa had no kind words to Ndlovu, whom she said is inching to lead Zimbabwe into anarchy.

The pastoral letter, signed by ZCBC president Archbishop Charles Ndlovu, Archbishop Alex Thomas (ZCBC deputy president), and bishops Paul Horan (ZCBC secretary and treasurer), Michael Bhasera (Masvingo), Albert Serrano (Hwange), Rudolf Nyandoro (Gokwe) and Raymond Mupandasekwa (Chinhoyi), was published on Friday and is riddled with political undercurrents.

In the letter, the bishops accuse the Government of human rights violations, while repeating unproven allegations against President Mnangagwa’s administration.

The letter appears to incite Catholics and other peace-loving Zimbabweans to overthrow the Government as it makes reference to a famous statement by the late American politician and civil rights leader John Robert Lewis “that the march is not over”, in what appears to be a reference to the failed July 31 protests.

In a hard-hitting response, Minister Mutsvangwa said: “The Government of Zimbabwe calls upon the Catholic congregation to ignore the misleading pastoral letter. Bishop Christopher Ndlovu is leading a coterie of Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops along the wrong path of bygone petty tribalism, narrow regionalism and the debunked and defeated racial antagonism.

“Its evil message reeks with all the vices that have perennially hobbled the progress of Africa. It trumpets petty tribal feuds and narrow regionalist agendas. That he (Archbishop Ndlovu) hopes to sow seeds of internecine strife as a prelude to civil war and national disintegration.”

Minister Mutsvangwa likened Archbishop Ndlovu to Rwandan bishop Athanase Seromba, the infamous Rwandese Catholic Archbishop who was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for inciting genocide.

“Such was the horrendous and abominable conduct of the Rwanda Catholic Church that Pope Francis, the global head of the worldwide Catholic Church had to make a formal Papal visit to Kigali in 2017. The reason was to offer a contrite apology for the heinous crimes of the Rwanda Catholic Clergy.

“With nefarious cynicism to history, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu is inching to lead the Zimbabwe Catholic congregation into the darkest dungeons of Rwanda-type genocide.”

She castigated the bishops for relying on unsubstantiated claims against Government, noting that there is neither evidence nor named victims to back-up the claims of human rights abuses.

“The letter is full of generalised accusations. By way of contrast, the meticulous Catholic Peace and Justice Commission of the anti-colonial, anti-racist epoch collated, compiled and published dossiers of specific crimes committed by the colonial settler minority regime.

“The Archbishop and his flock of misled Catholic bishops have none of that diligence. Instead, they wallow in generalised and baseless accusations. Absolutely no shred of reported evidence of so-called victims.”

In the letter, the bishops attempted to stir up emotions and divisions by making reference to the Matabeleland disturbances of the 1980s. Minister Mutsvangwa castigated the bishops for attempting to abuse the disturbances for their own ends while ignoring the 1987 Unity Accord that brought an end to the period after the unification of Zanu and PF Zapu to form ZANU PF.

“He (Archbishop Ndlovu) wants to posit as the leader of the righteous Ndebele minority by fanning the psychosis of tribal victimisation. Concurrently, he sows sins of collective guilt on the Shona majority. That way he seeks to numb the spirit of collective national vigilance against the known and proven enemies of the populace of Zimbabwe,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“His transgressions acquire a geopolitical dimension as the chief priest of the agenda of regime change that is the hallmark of the post-imperial major Western powers for the last two decades.”

Addressing Zimbabweans, Minister Mutsvangwa said: “Fellow Zimbabweans, Gukurahundi is indeed a dark spot in the tortuous task of nation-building by Zimbabwe. The two parties of that needless chapter of history need to be hailed for seeking peace and unity as they avoided the abyss that could have been a full-blown civil war. Happily, we ended up with the 1987 Unity Accord.”

She said during the liberation struggle, Catholic bishops gained fame for protecting people’s rights, unlike the ZCBC which is pushing political interests.

She went on to challenge Zimbabweans not to be fooled by the call that “The march is not ended”.

Contrary to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference’s utterances, the new dispensation under the stewardship of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has demonstrated a serious commitment to fighting corruption.

Cases in point include the setting up of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) and capacitation of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) that saw several high profile people being dragged before the courts facing corruption charges