Zimbabwe: Bishop accuses some churches of failing people

 The leader of Zimbabwe's largest functioning Church alliance says the country's main grouping of traditional Protestant churches and the African and global umbrella church organizations with which it is affiliated have been notable for their silence on the country,s crisis.

"The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has done nothing. The churches should have been speaking without fear or favour, just speaking on behalf of suffering masses of Zimbabwe. Their absenteeism is so pronounced," said Methodist Bishop Levee Kadenge, the convenor of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance.

The alliance brings together Roman Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Ecumenical News International reported that Bishop Kadenge spoke on Tuesday after a meeting held at the Geneva Ecumenical Centre, which houses the headquarters of the World Council of Churches. The ZCC is affiliated with the global church grouping as well as with the Nairobi-based All African Conference of Churches (AACC).

The Methodist bishop said it was difficult for the WCC and the AACC to speak up for Zimbabweans due to the stance of the ZCC, but that they could have done so if they had chosen to. He noted that 11 million Zimbabweans are suffering under an inflation rate in excess of 200 million percent, and that unemployment exceeds 80 percent, while millions of Zimbabweans live in exile.

The head of Zimbabwe's Zanu-PF party, Robert Mugabe who became leader of his country in 1980, refused to budge from power or to fully share it with the Movement for Democratic Change which won a parliamentary election in March.

Bishop Kadenge said the Zanu-PF party, which had been ruling Zimbabwe since 1980, should be making the most concessions in the negotiations since it lost the March parliamentary elections.

Asked why he thought so many church leaders had remained silent while Zimbabweans had suffered, Kadenge said, "I think it is a question of fear."

"If that means they are silent and they choose to be, that is their choice," Kadenge told Ecumenical News International. "But they can go for it. Truth bearers are not often welcome. The scriptures say so. If the ZCC wants it can stand persecution by talking the truth. If they don't want that persecution, that is their choice."

The bishop, who has been detained without trial five times by security officials and is scheduled to return home, was asked if he was not afraid to speak out. "Yes I fear. God yes, I fear, I am a human being. I'm afraid. That does not stop me doing what I have to do," Kadenge told ENI. "That is the difference. If I say I'm not afraid, I'm dead. But I'm convinced there is a bigger force beyond me that takes care of those things."

Source: CISA

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