CHURCH CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY

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CALL FOR NATIONAL SABBATH FOR TRUST AND CONFIDENCE BUILDING

7th October 2019

We, the leaders of the ZHOCD made up of EFZ, UDACIZA, ZCBC and ZCC, met at the Africa Synod House on the 7th of October 2019 to consider the currently unfolding national crisis in its totality and to propose what we believe is a comprehensive but sustainable solution to it. We have prayerfully come to the conclusion that in light of the current political paralysis, deepening mistrust and the dehumanizing economic decline, the nation will need to take a bold decision to address the root causes of our national challenges that have a very long history and will not be fully resolved by one entity. In this light we are calling the nation to SABBATH on all political contestation for a period of seven years to allow for the rebuilding of trust and confidence, reset our politics and chart a shared way forward towards a comprehensive economic recovery path in a non-competitive political environment.  This position builds on the founding vision of the 2006 church discussion document, the Zimbabwe We Want. The position also builds on the proposal from the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations Episcopal Conference at the Large City Hall, Bulawayo of 08-09 May 2019.

  1. The idea of the SABBATH is a deep theological theme in the Old and New Testaments of the bible and in Church tradition. It is based on God’s command to his people to set aside the seventh day for a rest. Seven years were also considered as SABBATH years. Seven seven-year sabbaths or forty-nine years constituted what was called the Jubilee season. In this Jubilee season, land would be left fallow so that it could recover its nutrients. Debts would be forgiven. New relationships would be built and God would bless his people. Since its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe reaches her Jubilee year in 2029. The nation could use the coming period to usher in a true Jubilee for the nation by removing all political contestation from the land and focus the period on healing past wounds, recover the economy, and build a new political culture of cooperation focused on nation-building.
  • The current deteriorating economic crisis which is characterized by systemic corruption, shortages of fuel, prices going out of control and collapse of the health sector needs to be built from the ground with everyone’s support. As we are meeting, doctors are on strike and other workers such as teachers are threatening the same as they find it difficult to make ends meet with their current remunerations. According to the ZimVAC figures for 2019, an estimated 7.7 million Zimbabweans are in need of food assistance due to drought. Malnutrition and the interruption of basic services such as health and education may have both immediate and long-term negative impact. When this is combined with high levels of unemployment, stagnant salaries and the loss of buying power of salaries for those who are still employed, one can only conclude that Zimbabwe needs an urgent and holistic solution in which the grassroots, organized society and political and policy sectors should contribute to and own.
  • The current political paralysis and logjam characterized by the failure of the ruling party and the main opposition party to find a workable collaborative model is an issue of great concern. The fact that the two main political parties remain stuck in the post-election mode and will soon embark on a new election mode means that Zimbabwe is unlikely to realize any meaningful engagement between these parties towards a shared constitutional alignment agenda. Without a shared approach to national processes, the efforts by one are undermined by the other, while any positive contribution towards the national good by each is read only within a party-political perspective.  We foresee that, whichever political party wins an election, the paralysis will remain, if the opposing parties do not learn how to collaborate. It is the people who will continue to suffer if as a nation we fail to establish some unity in diversity.
  • Zimbabwe has not yet undergone healing from the various periods of national hurt. While we recognize the efforts of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the failure of the nation to fully bring healing and mutually acceptable closure to the long past, immediate past and recent past means that hatred fossilizes and the propensity for revenge grows. Casual references to ethnicity as the organizing principle for political mobilization threatens national stability in ways many may not be aware of.  
  • Having looked at these issues in a holistic fashion, the Church leaders have observed that the current environment does not allow for meaningful political reforms nor is it conducive for an inclusive economic participation for ordinary citizens. Such an environment of toxic political relations also renders our international re-engagement process futile, which international isolation inhibits investor confidence and slow economic growth. Such a polarized environment weakens respect for national institutions such as the courts, the police and the security sectors. Once such institutions are viewed as partisan and lacking in independence, it becomes impossible to ellicit cooperation among the policy and political actors to drive a national reform process in the best interests of the nation.
  • The Church leaders have also realized that since 2000, election periods have been characterized by violence and paralyzing polarization and have helped to provoke high levels of mistrust. On one hand, the ruling party has blamed the opposition for selective recognition of electoral processes and for celebrating when results go in their favor while crying foul when results go in favor of the incumbents. On the other hand, the opposition has continued to point to gross human rights violations and the skewed political playing field. Different observers and independent commissions have raised the need for a broad-based and comprehensive national dialogue to find lasting solution to these challenges and mutual accusation. What has not been proposed is the environment conducive enough to allow for such transformative national conversation to bring hope. It is such a solution the Church is humbly proposing to the nation.
  • While all the political bickering is continuing, the basic concern for the ordinary citizen across the political divide is to get on with their personal development. In the current context, the citizens have grown weary from struggling against the never-ending waves of electoral polarization that undermine their hard work, disrupt community building and erode progress.  The danger is that, the more citizens lose confidence in democratic processes such as elections, the more apathetic they will become, and the less representative political offices will become. We must rescue this situation by providing, not yet other piecemeal solutions. What we need is a proper break with the current paralysis and move towards real renewal and transformation.
  • It is in this light that the Church leaders are proposing a national seven-year SABBATH period for the purposes of (a) establishing an emergency recovery mechanism to address the dire national situation, especially for the most vulnerable communities, (b) rebuilding trust and confidence by healing all the hurts of the past, (c) developing a shared national reform agenda to deepen our democracy, (d) establishing a shared and inclusive national economic vision. The SABBATH proposal entails the suspension of the constitutional provision of elections but such a deficiency will be redressed through a national referendum. The national referendum question would seek to ascertain from all Zimbabweans whether they agree with a proposal for a seven-year suspension of all political contestation for the sake of rebuilding trust and confidence by healing to all hurts of the past, sharing and executing a shared constitutional and political national reform agenda, and establishing and implementing a shared national economic vision.
  • The Church leaders are not proposing any detailed government structure of the SABBATH season. Such an implementation structure must emerge from a process of consultation of citizens at different layers of society. The structure will take into consideration the institutional and systemic requirements to achieve the objectives and safeguard the outcomes of the SABBATH. Through this SABBATH call, the church leaders are soliciting for national acceptance of the seven-year SABBATH period as a season for trust and confidence building, resetting of national politics, and creating an appropriate environment for economic recovery outside party political competition. The assumption is that once the principle receives national acceptance through a referendum, a consultative process to design the operationalization framework of the SABBATH season will be established through a broad-based and comprehensive national dialogue involving all levels of society.
  1. Taking into consideration that the SABBATH call is a holistic and long-term process, but also being aware that we are currently faced with a national humanitarian and emergency situation, we as the church commit ourselves to upscaling our efforts towards health, education, development and humanitarian assistance. In the same vein, we call upon all political actors, state and non-state actors to respond to the immediate need for humanitarian assistance and social services to alleviate the suffering of Zimbabweans.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43: 18-19, 25)

RELIGIOUS LEADERS CHALLENGED TO USE MEDIA TO BRING PEACE

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Religious Leaders from nine countries in Africa during a media training in Germany.

Religious leaders around the world have a responsibility of nurturing community peace building, reconciliation and integral human development at all levels of society. Part of their responsibility is to facilitate inter-religious dialogue and unity among communities torn by political, economic, cultural and environmental conflicts.

Michael Gleich challenged religious leaders to be proactive in their use of the media to promote peace.

To this effect, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany in conjunction with the Culture Counts Foundation brought together religious leaders from different backgrounds to a media training workshop held at Paretz Village in Berlin from 28 September to 03 October 2019. The workshop that was meant to equip religious leaders to interact with the media to communicate issues to do with peace also challenged them to take their work to another level by developing clear messages for their audiences and to have proactive relationships with journalists in promoting peace at all levels of society.

Religious leaders pay attention during one of the media training sessions.

The facilitator at the workshop, Michael Gleich told participants that they are not foes but friends with the media and should see each other as partners in an effort to bring about lasting peace. He said the media should use their power to promote peace and not to spew hate speech, fuel anger and conflict among cultures.

Religious leaders go through their paces in media training.

Religious leaders who were drawn from nine countries including Cameron, Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia, Mauritius, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe were taught to write their stories and share them through different media platforms including social media as a way of encouraging dialogue and achieving peace. Zimbabwe was represented by Br. Alfonce Kugwa from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Takunda Mandondo from Zimbabwe Council of Churches. The workshop also emphasized on the need to write short and clear press releases, pitching, organizing press conferences, video production and holding interviews.

Caritas Masvingo spearheads agro-ecology in Gutu and Bikita

Tatenda Mqetu

Agro-ecology is recommended as the most rewarding exercise especially for farmers in areas where rainfall is erratic.

Caritas Masvingo is spearheading the adoption of agro-ecology methods by peasant farmers ahead of the 2019/20 season with the promotion of small grains and traditional seed varieties as they foresee food security for their communities.

According to Caritas Masvingo Diocese Baseline Data, there is a remarkable improvement in the percentages as 70% of farmers in Bikita and Gutu have embraced the agro-ecological approach towards farming through the Equitable Access to and Use of Natural Resources Programme.

Caritas Masvingo encourages communities of Bikita and Gutu to plant small grain crops that can survive in low rainfall areas.

The Sustainable Livelihoods programme which increases yields while reducing environmental degradation has proved to be successful through resuscitation of lost traditional seed varieties (svoboda, orange maize, chinyamugage and munyadzagudo), solar water system, use of natural remedies which provides better solution in fighting armyworm (the use of cow urine, fine sand and yellow bitter apple/Nhundurwa) and a decrease in use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Caritas Masvingo Coordinator Oppah Rukara appreciated the efforts being made in the Equitable Access to and Use of Natural Resources Programme and acknowledges that there is looming food insecurity which is a result of two extreme weather conditions experienced as a result of El-Nino and Cyclone Idai.

CCJP Masvingo commissions Chipezeze bridge as part of conflict resolution initiative in Zaka

Tatenda Mqetu

The picture shows the official opening of Chipezeze Bridge in Zaka under the conflict management and mitigation project entitled ‘Shaping Our World (SOW)’.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Masvingo recently commissioned Chipezeze Bridge in Zaka District through the conflict management and mitigation project entitled ‘Shaping Our World (SOW)’ which later on transformed to ‘Re-Shaping Our World (Re-SOW)’.  

Zaka District Development Coordinator (formerly DA) Ndeya Nyede officially commissioned the bridge in the presence of Zaka Rural District Council (ZRDC) Engineer William Chikwanda and other key stakeholders of the community such as the Ward Councillor Peter Imbayarwo, local CCJP Peace Committee, traditional leaders, ZRDC and the villagers of Chipezeze community.

Re-SOW has created conflict education awareness through trainings and engagement platforms in target communities on how to peacefully resolve conflicts thanks to the financial support from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) facilitated by ‘Collaborative projects for the common good’ to ensure sustainability of projects.

CCJP Masvingo assisted the construction of a low lying bridge with seventy bags of cement and three wheelbarrows as a way to support collaboration which Chipezeze, Mvarume and Masaga communities wished to have for a very long time.

The Non-Governmental Organization noted that of the potential 21 target communities that the Re-SOW project was focusing on, only 8 managed to receive assistance after a tightly contested bidding process where the communities were asked to develop project proposals.

Zaka District Development Coordinator, Nyede also appreciated the project noting that developmental aid is sustainable as it helps the communities to grow.

“What is important is development. I am particularly happy about this project because it is a permanent development.” said Coordinator Nyede.

Ward Councillor Peter Imbayarwo also appreciated how the project managed to unite people of Chipezeze, Mvarume and Masaga communities.

“I am very happy because this bridge is not for one person. It’s not for two people, but it’s for everyone.” said Councillor Imbayarwo.    

The End Does Not Justify The Means

Pastoral Statement of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference on current affairs in the country

Published on 11 September 2019

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, all men and women of good will,

Introduction

(1) On the morning of Friday 6 September 2019, we woke up to the sad news of the death of former President of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. We extend our condolences to his immediate and extended family, the government of Zimbabwe and all the bereaved. May his soul rest in eternal peace. 

The End Does Not Justify the Means

Robert Mugabe with his first wife, Sally Hayfron, on their wedding day, April 1961.

(2) As the day unfolded on Friday 6 September 2019, condolence messages began to pour in highlighting the many good qualities of the late former President. Some dwelt on his broad education and others on his achievements from the liberation struggle to State House as a principled person, liberator, his empowerment of the black majority, pan-Africanist, etc. We, the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, agree with most of these attributes but they also raise a key question, ‘What went wrong?’ The intentions and the objectives were good but the manner of achieving them raised a number of ethical questions. This is where we, as a country, went wrong and continue to go wrong to this day. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches as follows:

“1757 The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the three “sources” of the morality of human acts. 

  1. The object chosen morally specifies the act of willing accordingly as reason recognizes and judges it good or evil. 
  2. “An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means. 
  3. A morally good act requires the goodness of its object, of its end, and of its circumstances together. 
  4. There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.”

(3) The liberation struggle was a last resort, after all attempts at dialogue and inclusion had failed. Violence can never be the first option. “ZANU haizombofa yakatsveta zvombo pasi” (ZANU will never lay down arms), as the popular saying we hear so often goes, should not mean we resort to arms and violence as the first option in any situation of conflict including the announcements for demonstrations. We believe engagement and dialogue will bring about the desired transformation of our nation. We are deeply concerned about the reported nocturnal visits by unknown masked men, beatings, torture, sexual assaults, abductions, harassment of dissenting voices and violent repression of demonstrations by Police. Such acts contradict the positive narrative of Zimbabwe’s Second Republic, have no place in a democratic society and there should be no impunity for those who commit these crimes. The end, in this case the purported peace, does not justify the means.

Sanctions

(4)  The main purpose of sanctions and embargoes is to influence the behaviour of the

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The intentions and the objectives were good but the manner of achieving them raised a number of ethical questions.

target country’s government, individuals or groups in the hope that will improve the situation in that country. Zimbabwe has endured the burden of sanctions for long. The impact of the adverse effects of sanctions is still being studied but over the past twenty years, given the number of people who have died from lack of adequate medicines, food, maternal deaths, etc., one can only conclude that the impact has been devastating. As an integral part of the comprehensive and inclusive dialogue we advocate for our country as Bishops of the Catholic Church, Zimbabweans, particularly our leaders, should address the imperatives that spawned sanctions on our country in the first place and genuinely implement reforms that the international community is calling for and to which our Government has expressed commitment. The common good and welfare of our people should spur our leaders to go beyond politicking and belligerence and thus give credence to Government’s call for reengagement, re-engagement which should in the first instance be experienced broadly among ourselves as Zimbabweans and in the second instance, as a united people, with the international community.

Corruption is Zimbabwe’s worst enemy that the current government should crack down on.

Corruption has greatly exacerbated the impact of sanctions on our country. Let us all unite to fight corruption, which is robing our nation of its future.

The Land

(5) One wonders for how long our land must remain in dispute. Sanctions were mainly imposed because of the fast-track land reforms that were done in Zimbabwe, not because the main political parties do not get along, etc. All the stakeholders, both local and international, need to speak the truth in charity, address the real issues and not hide behind a finger.

In the Ecumenical Document, The Zimbabwe We Want, we called for the finalization of the land question and made some recommendations saying:

“. . . the land question has been the most emotive national question

that has left our nation highly polarised. Now is the time to galvanize all our energies to bring finality to this vexatious issue in a manner that heals the wounds of the past . . . years. Now also is the time for the Government to show magnanimity by extending its hand in reaching out to all its citizens, regardless of political affiliation, race, gender or ethnicity to seek consensus on the way forward.

As a start, there is general recognition that the current reforms are irreversible but what is required is developing a national consensus on how best to address the outstanding issues and correct the imperfections in the land redistribution process to the benefit of all citizens who want to build their future on the land as well as to the benefit of our national economy. Our vision ought to be guided by the principle that there should be no winners and losers but rather we should all come out of this experience as winners.” (The Zimbabwe We Want: 2006). Zimbabwe needs a broad inclusive dialogue to resolve its historical contentious issues. The Churches are prepared to mediate as impartial and honest brokers.

Xenophobia  

(6) We have also witnessed xenophobic attacks in South Africa in recent times. One can understand the plight of the poor in South Africa in the same way one understands the plight of the poor all over the African continent. However, to them we also say, ‘The end does not justify the means.’ Xenophobic attacks on fellow Africans are not the answer. Spurred by a variety of reasons, among them economic and political security, immigration is as old as the history of mankind. We urge those inclined towards Xenophobia in South Africa and elsewhere to heed God’s call through the Prophet Jeremiah when he says:

“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien… nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3)

And to be reminded as the Israelites were reminded in the book of Exodus: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt…” (Exodus 22: 21-22)

Constitutionalism

(7) In 2013 Zimbabwe produced a National Constitution that received the approval of all Zimbabweans, an indicator that the Constitution mirrors the aggregated will and shared aspiration of the people of Zimbabwe. We should all commit to abiding by the Constitution of Zimbabwe, rule of law, freedom of speech and protection of human rights. Our

Constitution and our laws provide us with the means of achieving our national goals without resorting to any form of violence. Never again should our good intentions be undermined by bad execution when we have all the legal tools to realize the Zimbabwe We All Want. 

Recommendations

(8) We therefore request all Zimbabweans to turn their swords into ploughshares and unite in building the Zimbabwe we all want. We particularly request:

  • Security Forces to refrain from heavy handedness in restraining unarmed civilians;
  • The Zimbabwe Republic Police to investigate all cases of torture, abductions and wanton beatings and bring the perpetrators to trial;
  • The Executive and Legislature to enforce, supervise and oversee impartial implementation of the Constitution;   
  • The Zimbabwean government to listen to and address the real needs and grievances of people. The use of force to suppress dissent is unconstitutional and unsustainable;
  • We call on all leaders to stop corruption and call on all people to expose corrupt practices at every place. Corruption may have destroyed the country even more than sanctions.
  • The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) and other Churches to convene and facilitate National Days of Prayer. Our Nation needs God.

Conclusion 

We call for genuine dialogue at various levels of society, apart from the political dialogue. It is only in genuine meeting of hearts that we can tolerate each other and have a lasting solution to our problems. Dialogue is the only way to realize our good intentions. We need as in 2008 a political dialogue which will settle the impasse that has reduced our country to two warring camps. President R. G. Mugabe has also left us a legacy of political dialogue. If he could talk to Mr. M. Tsvangirai and come to a settlement, surely the successors of these opponents, for the good of the nation, can do the same. The Churches are ready to facilitate such dialogue.

It was also the late former President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who launched the Zimbabwe We Want Discussion Document in 2006 at the Catholic University in Zimbabwe. We would like to conclude by asserting that, as illustrated in Zimbabwe We Want Discussion Document, we believe the need for:

  • A shared national vision;
  • Political tolerance;
  • National healing and reconciliation;
  • Implementation of the constitution;
  • Eliminating corruption and  
  • Addressing land and economic challenges.

May the God Almighty bless the nation of Zimbabwe and grant it courage to build a Zimbabwe that is free, tolerant, peaceful, prosperous and God fearing.

God bless you all.

+Robert C. Ndlovu, Archbishop of Harare         (ZCBC President)

+Alex Thomas, Archbishop of Bulawayo            (ZCBC Vice President)

+Paul Horan, Bishop of Mutare                (ZCBC Secretary/Treasurer)

+Michael D. Bhasera, Bishop of Masvingo & Pontifical Administrator of Gweru

+Albert Serrano, Bishop of Hwange

+Rudolf Nyandoro, Bishop of Gokwe         

+Raymond Mupandasekwa, Bishop of Chinhoyi

SIGNIS-Africa brings home integral human development for the youth

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa in Ethiopia

Delegates to the SIGNIS-Africa Congress and Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia pose for a group photo at a the HUB Hotel

The digital media should be at the service of integral human development especially that of the youth in Africa who are the majority of the population in the continent. This was raised at the SIGNIS-Africa General Congress and Assembly held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 3 – 7 September under the theme, The African Youth in the Digital World; Promoting Creativity for Integral Development. The digital age brings a lot of opportunities and challenges and the youth need to be guided in their interaction with everchanging media technologies so that they use them to better their life through improved creativity, sharing faith and finding solutions to socio-economic and political problems in the world.

In his opening remarks to delegates at the SIGNIS Congress, His Eminence, Cardinal Souraphiel Berhaneyesus applauded Church communicators in Africa for taking time to evaluate how the media can be used to improve the life of the youth in a continent riddled with conflict and poverty. He said the youth tend to be more confused if they are not guided in their use of digital media.

Cardinal Berhaneyesus D. Souraphierl giving an interview to journalists during the SIGNIS-Africa Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“The youth around the world are confused because of technology and the youth of Africa are more prone to confusion in their use of digital media and the church need to help and guide them,” said Cardinal Berhaneyesus, emphasizing that Catholic media professionals have the responsibility of forming the conscience of society for integral human development.

Cardinal Yesus stressed that if the youth are properly guided in their interaction with the media, they will come up with new solutions to some current and old problems that bedevil Africa. He said the youth are creative, possible agents and artisans of their destiny.

Bishop Lisane Chiristos challenged Catholic media practitioners to use the media to bring he grace of God by making them instruments of evangelization. He said there cannot be evangelization without communication and that communication is not just another activity of the Church but is at the centre of the Church’s mission and life. Bishop Chiristos pointed out that the new media has given the Church in Africa opportunities of preaching the Gospel widely and directly.

“Without communication, there can never be evangelization. Bringing communication professionals together gives confidence that the Gospel will be communicated to all nations,” he said.

Integral human development is about the struggle against hunger, poverty, unemployment, corruption and political strife at all levels of society. The involvement of the youth in the digital media will open up more avenues for dealing with these problems, promote transparency, demand accountability and introduce new ways of production of goods and services.

His Eminence, Cardinal Berhaneyesus D. Souraphierl, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa and President of CBCE flanked by SIGNIS Officials including Ms. Helen Osman, President for SIGNIS World.

In a speech delivered on his behalf, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development in the Vatican, linked integral human development to the protection of the environment and equal distribution of resources paying attention to the needs of the youth and children. Cardinal Turkson called for promotion of creativity by the youth so that they bring change to the welfare of humanity.

He said: “Young people can contribute to the conviviality that cuts across borders of language, race and politics. They can breathe new life in every situation by their creativity and new ways of looking at things. Africa must be developed by young people.”

The SIGNIS-Africa President, Fr. Walter Ihejirika from Nigeria affirmed that the congress aimed at creating practical pathways for promoting the welfare of youth and children in the changing digital world. He stressed the need of building SIGNIS- Africa into a strong communication association capable of addressing communication challenges in Africa for purposes of empowering the youth. He acknowledged the presence of the leadership of the Church in Africa as an eloquent testimony of the premium which the church places on communication.

Delegates to SIGNIS-Africa Congress and Assembly at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ms. Helen Osman who is the World SIGNIS President called for digital citizenship and urged Catholic journalists to punctuate their work with faith and not fake news. She said the church was facing a crisis of credibility at different levels and the church media should help create spaces of witness though digital media.

President of SIGNIS World, Ms. Helen Osman addressing the SIGNIS Congress and Assembly delegates in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“The purpose of the Catholic media is to inform and form public opinion in line with the Gospel. Catholic communicators should establish platforms of honest dialogue through the digital media,” Osman said.

Osman called on Catholic journalists to challenge the church to be accountable and transparent in its representation of Christ.

Bishop Moses Hamungole buttressed the objectives of the congress by calling for serious pastoral formation of Catholic journalists for the care of children and young people in Africa. He stressed that without proper training and formation of journalists on taking care of children and the youth, they cannot fulfil their mandate in protecting the interests of children.

According to Bishop Hamungole, the functions of the media are connected to the socialization of children. Therefore, pastoral formation of journalists helps them to pay attention to the needs of children.

Bishop Moses Hamungole stressing the importance of formation of Catholic journalists for the protection of young children.


The Congress also addressed issues to do with technological and cultural means in combating cybercrime in Africa, harnessing ICT in youth development and the role of SIGNIS Services Rome in the digital development of African youths. All member countries were encouraged to improve the structure and visibility of SIGNIS at local, national and regional level.

“You are instruments of holiness and evangelisation”: Bishop tells Marian Guilds

By Tatenda Mqetu

The Bishop of Masvingo Diocese Michael Bhasera tasked Marian Guilds to be missionaries who evangelize their communities whilst supporting priests and religious. He said this at the National Marian Guilds in Zimbabwe 6th Congress held under the theme Baptised and sent in the footsteps of Mary the star of evangelization that took placefrom the 22nd to the 25th of August 2019 at Gokomere Mission.

Addressing the Congress partakers which included Solidarity of Mary, Legion of Mary, Mary Mother of Perpetual Help, Mary of Mount Carmel, Mary Queen of Heaven Guilds and other Catholic Guilds that attended the congress, the Masvingo Diocese shepherd pointed out that the laity should take the lead in evangelizing. 

“You are not alone, Mother Mary is with you, she walks with you, Marian Guilds are instruments of holiness and evangelization, the Church looks to you to be fully involved so that the light of the gospel shines everywhere, without your full involvement light of the gospel will never shine to the whole world, the salt of the earth will be salt in the earth, there are places where the priests and religious cannot reach and do not have to reach, but only you can reach those places, go and evangelize,” said Bishop Bhasera.

Bhasera also noted that it is essential that everyone renews his missionary vows to fulfill the discipleship of Jesus and being members of the Catholic Church.

“I believe that you are inspired by the universal theme of the Extraordinary Mission Month to choose this theme; Pope Francis has invited us to celebrate this important moment in the Church as a way of missionary renewal, we need this renewal ourselves, we have always been aware of our being disciples of Jesus, our being members of the Church and our being members of different Marian Guilds,” said Bishop Bhasera.

Spontaneously the Diocese of Masvingo is under the patronage of Our Lady Mary Queen of Peace and it presented the Marian Guilds a platform to glorify their Patron Saint in the midst of the Marian terrain.

New Leadership Teams for Local Congregations in Zimbabwe

About five local religious congregations in Zimbabwe held their General Chapter to determine the way forward of these different institutions. The congregations are the Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (HLMC), Sisters of the Infant Jesus (SJI), Brothers of St. Paul, Little Children of Our Blessed Lady (LCBL):

Little Children of Our Blessed Lady (LCBL) Leadership Team

Sr. Anita Jonga – Superior General

Sr. Bernadette Tariro Kuvheya – Vicar General 

Sr. Veronica Masikinye – Councillor

Sr. Gregor Munyaradzi Dakudzwa – Councillor

Sr. Rujeko Muchabaiwa – Councillor

Brothers of St. Paul Leadership Team

Br. Tamuka Mahwihwi – Superior General

Br. Paul Chinyere – Vicar General

Br. Mathew Chitakira – Councillor

Br. Charles Sibanda – Councillor

Br. Antony Saga – Councillor.

Sisters of the Infant Jesus (SJI) Leadership team

Sr. Patricia Rubaya – Superior General

Sr. Theresa Mugwidi – Vicar General

Sr. Alice Chomuyeke – Councillor

Sr. Emma Miti – Councillor

Sr. Violet Mupamhadzi – Councillor.

Handmaids of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (HLMC)

Sr. Madeleine Chapisa HLMC- Superior General

Sr. Ernestina Makowa HLMC – Assistant General

Sr. Christine Undi HLMC – General Councillor

Sr. Anuarite Manyahi HLMC – General Councillor

Sr. Maryvincent Mugadza HLMC – General Councillor

Gokwe Diocese; a Church on the move in transforming communities with pro-poor projects.

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Christians in Gokwe are enthusiatic to support the new missions which the diocese opened since 2017.

Christians in Gokwe are enthusiastic to support the new missions being opened in Gokwe.

Gokwe Diocese is a Church on the move as witnessed by numerous developmental projects lined up for the local church. The diocese has come of age in self-supporting, self-propagating and self-ministering efforts. A visit to the diocese and a tour of some projects revealed that the diocese has great potential to transform the lives of people in the surrounding communities. When Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro took over, Gokwe Diocese already showed positive signs of maturity from the well laid foundation by his two predecessors. Today, the diocese continues to shape up with faith in action. Self-reliance projects, schools and new missions serve as evangelizing tools for the diocese that places people at the centre. With the country’s failing economy and people’s loss of trust in the government, the only hope for the people of Gokwe lies in the diocese’s initiatives that are pro-poor in nature. Continue reading

Catholic University opens sixth campus in Masvingo

Tatenda Mqetu

Bishop Michael Bhasera in white Cassock flanked by Fr. Walther Nyatsanza, Professor Ranga Zinyemba, National Education Secretary Sr Theresa Nyadombo and others at the launch of the Catholic University Campus in Masvingo rec

Bishop Michael Bhasera (in white cassock) flanked by Fr. Walter Nyatsanza, Professor Ranga Zinyemba, National Education Secretary, Sr. Theresa Nyadombo and others at the launch of the Catholic University Campus in Masvingo recently.

The Catholic University of Zimbabwe (CUZ) officially launched the Masvingo Diocese campus on 19 July 2019 opening the first phase of the Bachelor of Education degree programs at Bondolfi Teachers College starting August 2019. Continue reading

Jostling for power and positions are wrong ambitions; Priests told during an ordination of five in Gweru

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Priests encircle the ordinands while Bishop Bhasera prays over them.

Priests encircle the newly ordained priests while Bishop Bhasera prays over them.

Jostling for power and positions are wrong ambitions in Catholic priesthood. This was said at an ordination of five priests at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru on 13 July 2019. The five were ordained by Bishop Michael Bhasera, the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Gweru. Among the five, Frs. Kudakwashe Chidhe, Aaron Mpofu, Stephen Mangoma and Augustine Manhovo are diocesan priests belonging to the Diocese of Gweru while Fr. Tembo Samuel Zhuva is of the Order of the Oblates of Mary Emaculate present in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo. Continue reading

Catechists honoured for growth of faith in Matebeleland region

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Archbishop Alex Thomas presents a plaque to honour Mrs. Anna Mugadza for her stelling work in the Archdiocese as a catechist for 45 years.

Archbishop Alex Thomas presents a plaque to honour Mrs. Anna Mugadza for her sterling work in the Archdiocese as a catechist for 45 years.

Catechists in Matebeleland received a special honour during the Archdiocese of Bulawayo’s commemoration of 140 years of Christianity held on 29 June 2019 at Our Lady of Fatima in Pumula South. Of special mention was Mrs. Anna Mugadza who received a special recognition from Pope Francis for her sterling contribution as a catechist in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo for 45 years and the late Mr. Alexander Regis Gwenelo. Continue reading

Three priests ordained in Bulawayo as Archdiocese celebrates 140 years of Christianity in Matebeleland.  

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Archbishop Alex presents the newly ordained priests to the congregation.

Archbishop Alex presents the newly ordained priests to the congregation.

The Archdiocese of Bulawayo on 29 June 2019 celebrated 140 years of Christianity in Matabeleland and 25 years as a metropolitan see. The celebrations were a symbol of massive spiritual and infrastructural development by the Catholic Church in Matebeleland from the time of the first missionaries in 1879 and their settlement at Empandeni in 1887. The celebrations, held at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Pumula South were coupled with the priestly ordination of Fr. Prize Kevin Madzivanyika CMM, Fr. Brian Francis Kandlela and Fr. Vusimuzi Golden Moyo. Continue reading

Corpus Christi; Source and Summit of Catholic Faith

Fr. Kennedy Muguti lifts a monstrance with the blessed sacrament in a procession along Simon Muzenda Street in Harare.

Fr. Kennedy Muguti in a car, lifts a monstrance with the blessed sacrament in a procession along Simon Muzenda Street in Harare.

The Catholic Church today celebrates the feast of the Corpus Christi to proclaim the fact of transubstantiation which means transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The festival of Corpus Christi celebrates the Eucharist as the body of Christ. Continue reading

RedCom donates for reconstruction of St. Charles Luwanga

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

RedCom Coordinator, Mrs. Dorothy Zakeyo, Mrs. Mombo, Br. Kenneth Temba, Mr. Justice Makura, Fr. Talent Muhomba lifting the cheque and Mrs. Dhlamini pose for a picture after the presentation of goods meant for the victims of

RedCom Coordinator, Mrs. Dorothy Zakeyo, Mrs. Mombo, Br. Kenneth Temba, Mr. Justice Makura, Fr. Talent Muhomba lifting the cheque and Mrs. Dhlamini pose for a picture after the presentation of goods meant for the victims of Cyclone Idai.

Donations towards Cyclone Idai victims continue to pour in with Redemptorist Communications (RedCom) donating RTGS7 700.00 towards the reconstruction of St. Charles Luwanga Secondary School in Chimanimani that was severely affected by the disaster.  The money was handed over to Fr. Talent Muhomba who represented the Bishop of Mutare, Rt. Rev. Paul Horan at a handover ceremony that took place at the Redemptorist bookshop in Harare on Monday, 17 June 2019. Continue reading