Zimbabwe: bishops ask government to 'repent, heed people's cry'

 The deep crisis afflicting Zimbabwe can be turned into a moment of grace and of a new beginning, if the government repents, heeds the cry of the people and fosters a change of heart and mind. That is the Easter message of the Catholic bishops of Zimbabwe, where an economic meltdown has reduced many people to hopelessness as President Robert Mugabe continues his iron rule that has shocked the world in recent weeks. Inflation has surpassed 1,600 per cent, the highest in the world, and eight in every ten Zimbabweans have no meaningful source of ncome. "The people of Zimbabwe are suffering. More and more people are getting angry, even from among those who had seemed to be doing reasonably well under the circumstances. The reasons for the anger are many, among them, bad governance and corruption," the bishops say. But not everyone is mourning, as "a tiny minority of the people have become very rich overnight, while the majority are languishing in poverty." Their crisis is even worse on the spiritual dimension, the bishops say: "Christians sit and pray and sing together in the same church, take part in the same celebration of the Eucharist and partake of the same Body and Blood of Christ; while the next day, outside the church, a few steps away, Christian state agents, policemen and soldiers assault and beat peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and torture detainees." The problem with Zimbabwe, say the bishops, is "a crisis of governance and a crisis of leadership apart from being a spiritual and moral crisis." For the last 27 years, national wealth and power have been in the hands of a corrupt clique, headed by President Mugabe. The conflict is "between those who are determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost, even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights and a share in the fruits of independence; between those who continue to benefit from the present system of inequality and injustice, because it favours them and enables them to maintain an exceptionally high standard of living, and those who go to bed hungry at night and wake up in the morning to another day without work and without income." It is a confrontation "between those who only know the language of violence and intimidation, and those who feel they have nothing more to lose because their Constitutional rights have been abrogated and their votes rigged." The situation is extremely volatile, as the state continues to respond to the cry of the people with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions, banning orders, beatings and torture. ""In order to avoid further bloodshed and avert a mass uprising the nation needs a new people-driven Constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair elections that will offer a chance for economic recovery under genuinely new policies." Source: CISA

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