Bishops in Zimbabwe Decry “Leadership Crisis”, Call for Comprehensive National Dialogue

Logo of Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC)

Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe are calling on citizens of the Southern Africa nation to shelf various forms of selfish tendencies and consider bringing their minds together for an all-inclusive and “a comprehensive national dialogue” that can help sort out the leadership crisis in their country and the nurturing of inclinations toward the “common good.”

“Time has come for every citizen to come to the table with humility and focus on the common good. We call for a comprehensive national dialogue,” the Bishops in Zimbabwe have stated in their December 9 message and clarified, “The national dialogue must be all inclusive, with representatives from government, political parties, civil society, business and the Church.”

Writing under their umbrella body of Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference (ZCBC), the Prelates have attributed the challenges in their country to gaps in leadership saying, “We do not seem to have leaders who think about our challenges as national challenges.”

They have explained in their Pastoral message, “Most of our leaders at all levels seem to think of safeguarding their own personal welfare and the welfare of their friends and relatives. More concern is placed on personal financial security, acquisition and keeping of political power and raising their social significance.”

“Our crisis is not only political and economic but first and foremost a spiritual and moral crisis,” the Prelates have stated referencing their 2007 declaration and added with regard to the crisis the country is facing, “It appears to us to be a clear sign of unhealthy egoism for political leaders to be placing selfish conditions on national dialogue and reconciliation.”


Describing the current situation in their country as a “tragedy of commons” as the short-term interests of selfish leaders conflict with the long term interests of the society, the Prelates have castigated the “narrow thinking” of the leaders.

“Clearly, the focus on short-term interests of leaders as they fight to get and keep political power is taking attention away from the common interests that could protect the weak, marginalized and the impoverished,” the Church leaders have lamented.

While acknowledging that the crisis has developed over time given that they raised concerns over the same issues way back in April 2007 through their pastoral letter, “God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed”, the Bishops have noted that the challenges “look more linked and as emanating from the same root causes,” a clear sign that “the nation has a deficit in the trust that citizens place in national leadership and national institutions.”

“Citizens have been crying to the leaders to find solutions but it seems all they get is, at best a cold shoulder and at worst, loss of jobs, teargas, arrests and beatings for allegedly participating in ‘regime change agenda.’ God is today asking as he did in Matthew 7:9-11; “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?” Of course not!” the Bishops have added.

In their message, the Church leaders have also revealed the outcome of their November 28 meeting with the country’s Presidium where they discussed the challenges facing the country, a discussion the Prelates have attributed to the “good Church-state relations.”

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“(The) government is currently in the process of assuming payment of salaries for Mission health workers, in the same manners as it caters for salaries in Mission schools,” the Bishops disclosed and added, “It was also during this meeting that Government announced its decision to also include Mission hospitals in the distribution of medicines procured by Government, in recognition of the contribution of Mission hospitals to national health.”

“We your Shepherds discerned a lot of good will on the part of Government and in subsequent meetings with representatives of both Senior and Junior doctors, who had declared incapacitation in terms of remuneration, hospital equipment and safe working environment,” the Bishops stated.

The Church leaders expressed the hope that both the Government and the doctors “find amicable solutions to the challenges, following the moratorium granted by Government.”