Following statements by Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference in a pastoral letter saying that the country had a multi-layered crisis, including economic collapse, deepening poverty, corruption and human rights abuses, the government has since rubbished the statements as ‘evil’ and trying to promote genocide.
The government is accused for alleged human rights abuses and a crackdown on dissent, adding to growing concerns over authorities’ treatment of opposing voices amid a worsening economic crisis.
Showing a lot of concern the Catholic Bishops said in a statement,“Fear runs down the spines of many of our people today, ….the crackdown on dissent is unprecedented … Our government automatically labels anyone thinking differently as an enemy of the country: that is an abuse.”
A number of government critics and ordinary people have been arrested in recent weeks, among them is an award winning Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, others allegedly abducted and tortured and many are in hiding following an anti-government protest stifled by security agents late last month.
With inflation now sitting at 837% continuously showing signs of a negative growth, President Mnangagwa’s critics accuse him of being more repressive than his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe, despite promising milk and honey when he took power in 2017 following a military assisted takeover.
The war between the Catholic bishops and the government came after Zimbabwe’s High Court ordered prison authorities to respect the rights of Hopewell Chin’ono, a journalist, and Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition politician, who have been in jail for more than three weeks charged with incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry as defined in section 187(1)(a) of the criminal law (Codification and Reform) Act. However the protests were not successful as the demonstrations were thwarted by security forces.
“Is this the Zimbabwe we want? To have a different opinion does not mean to be an enemy.” Bishops
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government in a response through information minister Monica Mutsvangwa accused the Catholic bishops of being “evil.”
“With nefarious cynicism to history, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu is inching to lead the Zimbabwe Catholic congregation into the darkest dungeons of Rwanda-type genocide,” Mutsvangwa said in the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper.
The “errant” and “reckless” archbishop “and his flock of misled Catholic bishops” were promoting a civil war, she said, calling Ndlovu “the chief priest of the agenda of regime change that is the hallmark of the post-imperial major Western powers for the last two decades.”
Mnangagwa says Western countries are funding the opposition to topple his government however, critics accuse the Mugabe’s former deputy, of resorting to authoritarian tactics like those seen under his former boss.
In a statement, the Law Society of Zimbabwe said that the human rights situation was deteriorating and that lawyers were also under attack from government agents.
“The law society further condemns the abduction and torture of citizens across the country by state security agents and individuals allegedly unknown but aligned to the state,” said part of the statement
Meanwhile, dismissed former ZANU PF Chivi South legislator and businessman Killer Zivhu said while there is no problem with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government dethroning him for ‘mentioning about dialogue’, the rulling party must desist from insulting God’s annointed ones describing the move by the ZANU PF Government as nonsensical.
“Hamudaro vazodzwa vaMwari (you cannot be seen doing this to God’s annointed ones). On this one I don’t support nonsense, ityai Mwari politics dzinopera (fear God, politics is not eternal”
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News Correspondent