CLERGY in England shared in the joy seen on the streets in Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe’s resignation this week.
Zimbabweans flooded the streets of the capital, Harare, at the announcement, made by the Zimbabwean parliamentary Speaker on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Mugabe, who is 93, stated in a letter that his resignation had been voluntary. Proceedings to impeach him were suspended.
The Revd Martha Mutikani is an NSM in Southwark diocese, which has diocesan links to three dioceses in Zimbabwe. She spent her childhood in Zimbabwe and South Africa before settling in the UK. She was “screaming and shouting ‘Halleluiah! Thank you, God!’” at the news, she said on Wednesday. “It is such a relief. It started so well, and everything went wrong.”
But it would be a long journey, she said. “The economy is down, there are no jobs, and graduates are on the streets selling and buying. As Zimbabweans, we need to campaign and rebuild. We have resources, but it is how they are managed to make them profitable and empower people, starting with education.”
Churches must talk to the government and provide buildings and resources. “We got this far through prayer: all denominations must stand together. This transitional period can turn either way.”
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, whose diocese is linked with Harare, said that diocesan links had never been more important. The Bishop of Harare, the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya, had travelled to the Central African Provincial Synod in Botswana this week, despite the uncertainties, Bishop Langstaff said. “I have been in touch with the Bishop of Harare, Bishop Chad, and certainly he and his people are very joyful, and I share in that joyfulness.”
The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, who chairs the Archbishops’ Roundtable on Zimbabwe, said on Wednesday: “As a new era begins in Zimbabwe, we give thanks and pray for justice, peace and good governance, for national unity, for the preservation of all her people from harm and for peaceful transition to a better tomorrow.” He urged people to use Bishop Gandiya’s adaptation of the Prayer for Africa: “God bless Zimbabwe. . .”
In the House of Lords last week, Bishop Chessun asked the UK to offer “help sensitively and purposefully where it is possible to do so” to ensure that there was no reoccurrence of conflict in Zimbabwe.
USPG, whose links with Zimbabwe go back to 1891, has put a prayer for the country on its website, together with last week’s statements by Bishop Gandiya and the Archbishop of Central Africa.
Bishop Gandiya requested prayer for a peaceful resolution; peace, love, unity, and development; safety for all people in Zimbabwe; that those arrested be treated humanely and that justice be seen to be done; that the Church continue to offer pastoral care and preach a message of hope, tolerance, forgiveness, and nation-building, and give wise guidance to all; and that respect for human rights be valued.