Lutheran World Federation Bemoans the Apparent Fragility of the Democratic Process in Zimbabwe

The presidential election, which had 23 aspirants, was a positive step toward true democracy in the country since the ousted president Robert Mugabe, who kept it all in his closet. 

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One of the soldiers who were deployed to thwart opposition parties protests of the election outcome firing live rounds in the air: Image Credit Times Live

Following the disturbing events of political violence that succeeded the 2018 harmonised elections, claiming six sacred human lives, injuring so many civilians in the way, and the vote-rigging allegations, the Lutheran World Federation has written a letter of consolation to the bereaved families, in which they also bemoan the fragility of democracy in the country.


In a letter of solidarity to their resident member church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ), the LWF which is a global communion of national and regional Lutheran churches headquartered in the Ecumenical Center Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, said that they pray that the strong hope and desire of the Zimbabwean people to see their country flourishing after a long period of suffering will soon materialise.

“We weep for the victims and their families, we weep for the apparent fragility of the democratic process and pray that the strong hope and desire of the Zimbabwean people to see their country flourishing after a long period of suffering will soon be a reality with the contribution of each member of the society, regardless of political identity,” LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge wrote.

Rev Dr Junge also noted with great emphasis the magnitude of the work that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe is doing through an association of Christians from mainline denominations, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), in strongly advocating against violence and for peace.

“This is a sign of strong commitment that the church has to continue proclaiming. We continue to walk with you and all the people of Zimbabwe in prayers for peace and stability in the country in order for all to enjoy the fruits of their land,” Junge writes.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe is an instrumental member of ZCC and its pastor, Rev Dr Kenneth Mtata, is the serving ZCC General Secretary.

ZCC campaigns before, during and after July 30 polls contributed positively to a peaceful election and Christian engagement this year.

The 2018 general elections were hotly contested. The incumbent President E.D. Mnangagwa emerged the winner, amassing 50, 8 per cent of the overall votes while his formidable rival Nelson Chamisa had 44, 3 per cent.

Many observer missions have since endorsed the landmark elections saying they were orderly and within the law. Among them are the African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Commonwealth observers.

On paper, the presidential elections, which had 23 aspirants, were a positive step toward true democracy in the country since the ousted president Robert Mugabe, who kept it all in his closet. Preceding elections under the nonagenarian rule were marred by irregularities including violence, allegations of fraud, questions about the credibility of the voter rolls, accusations of impartiality by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, interference by the military in favour of the ruling party, and an uneven electoral playing field for parties and candidates.

The 2018 election, regardless of having been endorsed by most observers, have had the alliance of opposition parties, civic groups and other observers raising deep concerns about the electoral environment as they reported incidents of intimidation, using food aid and traditional leaders to accumulate support and the huge number of assisted voters.

Meanwhile, the military continues to cast a dark shadow in the country. On Wednesday, the 1st of August, amid opposition parties protests of the election outcome, the army were deployed and they launched robust operations on unarmed civilians, firing live rounds and the death toll from that street clashes reportedly rose to six and injured fourteen people.

Meanwhile, the MDC Alliance has ditched the poll result and assembled a team of legal experts to sift through the electoral data and mount a strong challenge against President Mnangagwa’s triumph.

Opposition leaders have vowed to fight the result, demanding that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) release constituency-based tallies.

In this light, it appears Zimbabwe has a long road ahead of it to democracy, and credible elections are just one step on the path to meaningful reform.

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#TheConversation: The bible often highlights God's love for us but also shows that even God's people suffer. Is it hard for you to believe that a loving God would allow suffering?