Zimbabwe Christian Leaders Lament “surge in systematic political violence, repression”

Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A surge in what is described as “systematic political violence, repression” and “arbitrary arrests” are among concerns that Christian leaders in Zimbabwe are raising. 

In a Wednesday, January 25 statement, the Christian leaders under the auspices of Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) call for respect of human life and the enforcement of the law on offenders and perpetrators of violence.

ZHOCD members say they “note with deep concern a surge in systematic political violence, repression, hate speech and arbitrary arrests in the country.”

They highlight the recent violence meted out against elderly persons, saying the assaults were not only a “blatant violation of citizens' constitutional rights” but also went against “the social, cultural, and moral norms regarding the honor and respect that must be given to the elderly in our communities.”

ZHOCD members say the violence, which took place in Murehwa, some 100 km north of Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, “connects with episodes of violence, victimization, humiliation, intimidation, assault, and destruction of property that characterized the 2022 by-elections.”


“Similarly, the Church is following closely cases of hate speech that catalyze violence and undermines cohesion and tolerance in the country,” they say.

The Christian leaders also draw attention to “political related cases in Courts and ongoing arbitrary political arrests in the country, largely targeting members of the Opposition Political Parties.”

“The Church, in its moral and theological authority, deeply expresses disappointment and condemns all these forms of political violence, inhumane treatment, political persecution, and arbitrary arrests of fellow Zimbabweans,” say the ZHOCD members who are drawn from the leadership of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC), the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), the Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa (UDACIZA) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ).

They appeal to all Zimbabweans, including politicians to uphold the sanctity of human life, adding that political party leaders need to “publicly condemn their supporters and leaders who are perpetrating violence”

“Political leaders are called to take concrete actions to foster unity, peace, and an end to all forms of violence. These should include publicly sharing measures of disciplinary committees that help account for perpetrators of political violence,” ZHOCD members say.

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Government must also promote the fundamental values enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment and demonstrate “sufficient goodwill” to its full implementation, they say.

They state their disapproval of arbitrary arrests and abuse of the Judiciary and say the courts need to safeguard human rights, the rule of law, and deliver justice impartially.

“All known perpetrators of violence must be arrested and tried irrespective of their political affiliation,” the Christian leaders in Zimbabwe say.

On general elections expected to happen within the year, they implore the State to adhere to Regional and International Conventions such as the African Charter on Democracy and Governance (ACDG) and the Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections by The Southern African Development Community (SADC).

They encourage the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) “to strengthen multi-party liaison committees and ensure swift response, robustness, and effectiveness in addressing political and electoral related violence.”


ZHOCD members also call on the police and members of other state security agencies to impartially enforce the law on offenders and perpetrators of violence. 

“All cases of violence must be handled with a sense of urgency and impartiality to ensure that justice is delivered for all, and peace is fostered before, during, and after the 2023 elections,” they say.

Security agents in Zimbabwe, the Christian leaders say, must “impartially and maximally uphold citizens’ basic human rights in the discharge of their duties and in their collective and relentless pursuit of justice, peace, and national security.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.