Zimbabwe Council of Churches Shares Pastoral Letters Promoting Peaceful Elections
Pastoral Statement as we prepare for 2023 Harmonized Elections (July 15, 2023)
As the country approaches the 2023 harmonized elections, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches takes its role seriously, in accompanying the country towards achieving a peaceful, free, and fair election. Therefore, the ZCC Supervisory Council met on the 5th of July for a prayer and deep reflection on the state of the electoral environment ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections.
The reflection meeting was under aegis of the Zimbabwe We Want and the Election We Want strategic documents. It was further meant to take stock of the Ecumenical Election Strategy through the #iprayivote Campaign which is founded on sustained dialogue, engagement, election observation, voter education and awareness raising.
The Church takes note that the country is now fully in the electoral mode, and calls upon all Zimbabweans, as responsible citizens, to prioritize the sanctity of life and respect the exercise of human rights as enshrined in our national constitution. These rights include freedom of association, assembly and expression, which fosters a multi-party democracy.
During this election period and beyond, let us draw inspiration from biblical reflections on peace and harmony, as it is written, “ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Zimbabweans, may we strive to be those peacemakers fostering, unity, and promoting dialogue as we collectively build a “Zimbabwe We Want”.
ZCC acknowledges progress in maintaining relatively peaceful democratic processs which include the by-elections held in 2022 and 2023, political party internal candidate selection processes, sitting of the nomination court, and the ongoing relatively peaceful election campaigns.
ZCC’s long term election observation processes have shown that the current political environment remains relatively peaceful when compared to the previous electoral processes.
The church, however, is concerned with the following developments, as we approach the elections:
- Decline in women and your participation in electoral processes. According to the statistics released by ZEC, women participation as candidates has declined to 11% as compared to 14.4%, in 2018;
- The environment has been characterized by continued hate speech and derogatory language across the political divide;
- Involvement of children in political gatherings which compromises their safety and limits them from enjoying their rights such as education and play;
- General political polarization in the country, due to lack of tolerance of political diversity, and other factors.
ZCC therefore calls upon:
- The church, faith leaders, and all religions to strive to be bearers of hope, peace, and truth, during the electoral processes including elections. In the event of any eventuality, ZCC encourages the church to always stand with the marginalized and the voiceless.
- All Zimbabweans, political parties, and supporters to strongly denounce any form of violence that is beginning to rear, its ugly head across the country. It is essential that we foster an environment of peace and understanding, where the democratic processes can thrive.
- Furthermore, the church condems the use of hate speech directed towards political opponents and women in politics. Such behavior does to only undermine one’s dignity and the spirit of democracy, but also promotes marginazaltion of women, division and animosity.
- We also urge political leaders to preach the gospel of peace, unity and cohesion in public and private remarks, as well as to promote peace and tolerance in the nation. Political parties are further encouraged to strengthen, measures to prevent all forms of electoral violence, including violence, overt or benign, against women in politics. May we support and enhance women and youth representation and participation at all levels of government.
- The ZCC encourages Zimbabwe election commission (ZEC) to enforce an even electoral field for all political parties as it is constitutionally mandated. ZEC is further encouraged to enforce the provisions of the Electoral Act and Code of conduct so as to foster a free and fair electoral environment.
Together, let us work towards a peaceful pre and post election environment, where the voices of all Zimbabweans are heard, and respected. Conducting peaceful, free, fair and credible elections is essential in resolving some of the key challenges that we continue to face as a nation. By upholding the values of peace, respect, and inclusivity, we can build a stronger and more prosperous nation for all.
The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) consisting of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops conference (ZCBC), Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa (UDACIZA) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) would like to address the country as we prepare for the upcoming elections. The ZHOCD stands in solidarity with all citizens of Zimbabwe in this election, being mindful of the fact that holding of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections is fundamental for the transformation of our country
As the Church, we further recognize the importance of these elections in promoting the development of our country as a democratic nation.
We therefore make this address to you, fellow, brothers and sisters in Christ, and all Zimbabweans.
- As we share with the nation in the ZHOCD election, we want documents, Acts 1:12-26 gives us an insight on how elections can be conducted in accordance with God‘s plan on elections. The choosing of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot was done in a prayerful, inclusive, and transparent manner with set rules and standards. As a result, the outcome of the selection process made the apostles to be more united and run you to the fall of the Holy Spirit. As the church, we pray that our elections usher, a new era, filled with hope and revival for the nation.
- Recall for peaceful, and non-violent elections before, during and after election day. We would like the nation to draw inspiration from biblical reflections on peace and harmony as it is written, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9). Zimbabweans, made me strive to be those peacemakers, fostering, unity, and promoting dialogue as we collectively build the Zimbabwe we want.
- The church community is called to pray, for tolerance of diverged views, and peaceful coexistence in all the communities before, during and after the elections. All Zimbabweans, political parties, and supporters should strongly denounce any form of violence based on political affiliations and views. It is essential that we foster culture of peace and understanding, where democratic processes can thrive.
- Transparency and fairness are key tenants of free, fair and credible elections. What we can see from the election and ask one is that this process of choosing leaders was transparent. The church demands elections that are predictable in terms of process. The voting process must be clear on how people are going to vote, how their votes will be counted, how the results be collected, and how they will be announced in reasonable time as prescribed by the law.
- Peaceful, free, fair and credible elections. Trust and confidence, and they like to be is. If photos are not sure whether the leader was legitimately, elected or not, their commitment to such a leaders program after elections becomes limited. It is in the spirit that we produce in Zimbabwe electoral commission (ZEC) prevailing the voters brought to stake holders and citizens.
- An all inclusive Alatore process, ensures that all citizens have equal chances of participating in elections, either as candidates or photos. The gathering in the election in acts 1 comprised of men and women, young and old. It was an inclusive process. The numbers of those participating or known about “one hundred and teenty people“. No one was excluded from participating.
- Contrary to the above, the church has noted with concern, a decline in the participation of women, youth, and people with disabilities in the election as candidates. Statistics have been released by ZEZE showing that the proportion of female cannabis participating in elections declined for 14% in 2018 elections to 11% in 2023. This is despite the fact that women constitute at least 52% of the population in the country. The church here for calls upon all relevant stake holders to make concerted efforts to ensure that more women, youth, and people with disabilities participating electoral processes, but this candidate and voters.
- All registered voters should know that it is their right and duty to vote. Voting is a personal decision, and expression of one’s freedom. Photoshoot, therefore not being timid, dated and coerced to vote against their will. A level Plainfield Schloss citizens to have access to information from all candidates through media and physical campaigns. This will allow them to make informed decisions in the ballot.
- The ZHOCD, therefore condemns, the systematic, denial or banning of other political parties to campaign freely throughout the country. Denying other political parties to sell their ideas to the electric, is a violation key, constitutional provisions, such as freedom of assembly and association.
- As the church, recalling all peaceloving citizens to Pray and work towards a peaceful pre-and post election environment for the voices of Austin, Bob Williams, I heard and respected. Conducting peaceful, free, fair and credible elections is essential in resolving some of the key challenges that we continue to face as a nation.
By upholding the value of peace, respect and inclusivity, we can build a stronger and more prosperous nation for all.