Divided Churches Cannot Facilitate National Dialogue

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The churches in Zimbabwe have been active on the political scene on various fronts, yet its exact role within the context of political transitions has been least explored, save only for the constitution-making process, the November 2017 events that toppled former President Robert Mugabe from power and the 2018 general election.

From and within this transitional epoch, the church undertook a number of activities. It has been at the centre of weighty political discussions and thrusting forth tirelessly, making sure that there is an accord and balance between the governors and the governed.

It is well indicated that the church is still prominent on the radar of political life as evinced by the enterprises of the organised Christian networks such as the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD), and Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA).

Noteworthy is that the church and the state are complementary in satisfying human needs and that the later is awash with political zealots who partake in key political processes envisaged under the volatile phases. Albeit, the immensity of their participation varies depending on the national issue at hand.

This is a sad development.

While anticipations could have it that all the churches should be unified and speaking with a solid voice, it is utterly a lamentable to note that the prevailing denominational and theological divide among Christians or religions always splits their attitudes, not merely on issues to do with doctrines and belief but likewise on red-button national issues.

One church says one thing, while the other is communicating an entirely distinct sentiment, thus any undertaking to understand how the church views national issues to do with government and power is exasperating and a true definition of opening a pandora box of confusion.

Regularly, there are so many voices coming out branded as the ‘church’, even if they represent a minuscule fraction of what makes up the body of Christ.

This unrelenting division has proven to be a defect to the Church when it comes to communicating with power.

The ongoing political halt, characterised by looming strikes, demonstrations and the dire economic deterioration, is bringing out the aforementioned ecclesiastical insanity, where we have numerous churches speaking out separately on the same issue. The results are disastrous and far-reaching. History has already shown us the devastating effects that a divided house has on its nation.

A little-known church consortium largely made up by indigenous churches has censured the divided church community, saying it is its own hindrance to the entire process of a national dialogue.

Addressing the media on Wednesday in Harare, Zimbabwe Christian Development Council (ZCDC) Interim Registrar Pastor Jairos Dzvene stressed the need for the country’s many church denominations to unite first before it could consider convincing politicians to subscribe to any dialogue initiative.

“We are not united as the church. We don’t speak with one voice. When one church union speaks, it is said that the church has spoken. This is the crisis of the church. We are having a problem because this is not the voice of the whole church. This represents one sector of what it means to be the church.

So as ZCDC we want to start a dialogue among churches because we’re divided. For us to influence the national political actors, we need to do that as one church. We’re praying that God brings understanding among all churches as we try to bring our economy back to its foot.”

Pastor Dzvene, whose organisation claims to have 300 member churches, said for any change to be lasting and meaningful, it must come from an inward change, hence the Church needs a revival of character.

He expressed high hopes that the church dialogue would succeed as churches are bound by the same God and similar principles of peace, unity and love.

ZCDC Interim Chairman Bishop A. Munyanya who also spoke during the briefing also echoed that the Church united in biblical foundation and ideology, should have the greatest voice in any nation.

Churches should not be owned or influenced by any political party, but rather should represent the people and be the plumb line of truth in love, righteousness and justice, and healing and hope in the nation, he noted.

“If the Church would willingly release its worldly agenda and focus on God’s agenda, it could bring lasting change to every sphere of society in Zimbabwe,” said the Bishop.

Asked whether the recently launched Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) will yield any good, Pastor Dzvene said that the bible states that, “for where two or three gathers” in God’s name they are bound to come up with something tangible as He’s with them.

“For now, we only pray that the current political dialogue receives God’s hand and that the economy of this country gets better,” he said.

However, with concern, the cleric noted that it was a displeasure that powerhouse political party like the MDC Alliance and its leader Nelson Chamisa were not part of it. Thus, they said it was the church’s responsibility to mobilise all Christians and embark on understanding why they are snubbing it.

Asked by this writer if they have reached out to other significant church bodies, unions and para-churches like the ZCC, EFZ, ZACC, ZDD, Pastor Dzvene said they were in the process of engaging them.

In a bid to bring all the churches to a roundtable discussion, the Zimbabwe Christian Development Council announced that they will be hosting National Prayer Services across the country which will be conducted continuously throughout the season. The services will be held in various churches.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Council of Churches is working closely with the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and his Gender Commission in championing dialogue and conversations around the socioeconomic status of the nation.

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ImChris Charamba

ImChris Charamba

Head Storyteller at Enthuse Afrika. Balances literary writing with pop culture experience. Captivates raw, authentic sights, moments, feelings and conversations. Follow me on Twitter @ImChrisCharamba

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