Alliance for People’s Agenda (APA) is taken aback, but not surprised, at the reaction to the pastoral letter issued by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference on the current situation in Zimbabwe.
By APA secretary-general, Albert Gumbo
For the sake of clarity and with reference to this particular context, APA would like to point out the following undeniable facts regarding the history of the Catholic church in the Rhodesia era and independent Zimbabwe.
- The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) consistently and publicly protested the racist practices of the Rhodesian regime.
- It was Father John Gough, a Catholic priest, who assisted the now late Robert Mugabe and Edgar Tekere to escape Rhodesia into Mozambique to join the armed struggle in 1975.
- During the war, the Catholic church published books such as The Man in the Middle (1975) and The Civil War in Rhodesia (1976) to expose the excesses of the settler regime.
- The armed struggle benefitted from the moral high ground of a just cause as well as the support of a powerful ally in the church.
- The Catholic church went as far as providing refuge in dangerous times for liberation fighters at its institutions such as Silveira House. After the post-independence Zanu PF-led government turned from liberator to inflicting terror on fellow liberator, Zapu and fellow citizens in Matabeleland North, South and the Midlands, it was the CCJP that raised the alarm in keeping with its ethos. They did not do this surreptitiously. Rather on November 5, 1982, they went and presented evidence of gross
human rights abuses to the then Prime Minister Mugabe and his security ministers including the current President Emmerson Mnangagwa. How has the government reacted to exposure of human rights abuses and concerns for the state of the country?
- In 1983: Mugabe called the bishops “sanctimonious prelates and foreign agents”
- In 2007: Government declared that bishops would no longer be treated with “kids’ gloves since they had decided to take the dangerous path of siding with the opposition”.
And here we are today, another shameful letter from Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa condemning and labelling church ministers for speaking
truth to power. APA further calls on citizens to see what this regime for what it really is: a selfish predatory elite living in crass conspicuous consumption off the backs of the suffering of the masses.