ZIMBABWE: Church Collects Data on Human Rights Violations

HARARE, FEBRUARY 1, 2019 (CISA)-The Justice and Peace Commission of Zimbabwe’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference is collecting information on violence and human rights abuses across the country.

“The victims very often come to the Church to seek help and visit our hospitals, and we bring those cases to the attention of the government, so they serve as evidence of what is happening,” said Fr Frederick Chiromba, General Secretary of the bishops’ conference.

On January 25, Bishop Michael Bhasera of Masvingo led a delegation of bishops for a meeting with Zimbabwe Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the country’s defense minister and the head of its national intelligence agency to discuss the mid-January violent protests in which 12 people died.

According to Fr Chiromba, the meeting held in Harare was, “to get an understanding on what provoked this situation” and to discuss how “government and the church can collaborate so that we move beyond this situation to a Zimbabwe we want.”

He called upon the government and affected parties to embrace dialogue noting that “there is so much polarization in the nation and the church is best placed to mediate,” reported Crux.

In their recent statement, the bishops blamed the government for “heavy-handed and intolerant handling of dissent” which resulted in the deaths of innocent people.

They associated the recent strikes by doctors, teachers and others as a result of the government’s “failure to arrest the deteriorating economic situation with many breadwinners losing their jobs and the cost of living soaring beyond the reach of the majority of people.”

“Zimbabwe is burning; its economy is hurting; its people are suffering,” they said.

Unemployment is above 80 percent in Zimbabwe. Many Zimbabweans accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa of failing to keep pre-election pledges to improve the economy.