Bishops in Zimbabwe Support “3-week Lockdown” Over COVID-19, Want More Preventive Measures

Bishops of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) with Pope Francis in Rome during their Adlimina visit.

With eight confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death related to the disease in Zimbabwe, Catholic Bishops in the South African country have welcomed the 21-day nationwide  lockdown announced by the country’s President at the beginning of the week.

The Bishops’ support was part of pastoral letter they issued on the 40th anniversary of their country’s independence. The Thursday, April 2 collective letter also calls for more preventive measures to curb the spread of the global pandemic and “save lives.”

“We welcome the three-week lockdown declared by (the) Government. Our only line of defence is prevention. Let us be proactive and work hard to save lives,” the members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) have stated.

They have added, “There is need for outright and vigorous efforts to fight and prevent this pandemic, which if it is not carefully handled in our country, may spell doom to the whole of our nation where hospital structures are not fully-equipped and ready to combat it.” 

According to the Church leaders, the national lockdown, which was declared Monday, March 30, “must be complemented by other efforts as we move forward in building good relationships among ourselves and with the international community and developing our country.”


Reflecting on the status of their country 40 years after independence, the Bishops have noted the need to mend differences among Zimbabweans and realize peaceful co-existence saying, “There is hunger for reconciliation and addressing the past hurts and injustices.”

In their collective statement, the Church leaders argue that while the establishment of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) “gives hope to promote healing and reconciliation” in the country, the commission is yet to “be fully operationalized.”

The lack of clarity when NPRC’s mandate will expire is a matter of concern for the Bishops in Zimbabwe, a situation that compromises the credibility of the commission.

“We appeal to our government to ensure that all the laws are aligned with the constitution and constitutionalism becomes the lifeblood of the governance architecture,” the Bishops have urged in reference to the attempted amendment of the 2013 constitution, which they say “has not yet been fully implemented.”

Other issues that the Bishops have highlighted in their collective pastoral letter include corruption, international isolation, collapsing infrastructure, emigration and the gradual economic recession, that has led to “closing of industries and companies, foreign investor flight, job losses, and the decline of  agricultural productivity, leading to escalation in poverty levels.”

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On the way forward, the Church leaders have alluded to the Israelites forty-year journey to the Promised Land saying, “We can do ourselves a favour and shorten the journey with more political will and turn the potential that Zimbabwe has into reality.”

“Now is the favourable time for restoring our nation through rebuilding good social, health, education, economic and political structures,” the Bishops have stated and added, “We need to repent from bad governance, corruption and violence among other things.”

The Prelates have also expressed their hopes that the ten years to the country’s jubilee celebration in 2030 will be “a period of re-aligning everything to the original vision of our independence.”

Formerly known as Southern Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, a former British colony, gained independence on April 18, 1980.

Celebrations for the country’s 40th anniversary of Independence had been scheduled to take place on April 18. However, considering the restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, President Emmerson Mnangagwa postponed the event to a later date.