Church Leaders in Zimbabwe Want 7-Year National Fast from Politics, Propose Referendum

Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations

At a time when Zimbabwe is grappling with a myriad of challenges among them “the worst economic crisis since the 2017 coup which unseated (former) President Robert Mugabe,” leaders from various Christian denominations in the landlocked Southern Africa nation are calling for a seven-year suspension of politicking in what they have termed “a Sabbath on all political contestation” aimed at rebuilding trust and confidence among Zimbabweans.  

“We are calling the nation to SABBATH on all political contestation for a period of seven years to allow for the rebuilding of trust and confidence, reset our politics and chart a shared way forward,” Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) said in a statement availed to ACI Africa.

ZHOCD is made up of heads of various Christian denominations that include Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC), Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa (UDACIZA) and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC).

In these Christian leaders’ considered view, fasting from politics for a period of seven years can bear good fruit since they envision “a comprehensive economic recovery path in a non-competitive political environment.”

The leaders have outlined four objectives of their proposed “national seven-year SABBATH”, including the establishment of “an emergency recovery mechanism to address the dire national situation,” the healing of past injuries in view of rebuilding trust and confidence, the deepening of democracy through “a shared national reform agenda,” and the establishment of “a shared and inclusive national economic vision.”


The Christian leaders have described their call to a seven-year fast from politics as “a bold decision” borne out of days of prayer and discernment.

“We have prayerfully come to the conclusion that in light of the current political paralysis, deepening mistrust and the dehumanizing economic decline, the nation will need to take a bold decision to address the root causes of the our national challenges that have a very long history and will not be fully resolved by one entity,” the leaders have disclosed in their October 7 statement.

The leaders traced the concept of SABBATH in the scriptures saying, “It is based on God’s command to his people to set aside the seventh day for a rest. Seven years were also considered as SABBATH years.”

In the place of engaging in unending politics that seem not to bring lasting solutions, the leaders under their umbrella body ZHOCD have argued, Zimbabweans would “focus the period (seven years) on healing past wounds, recover the economy, and build  a new political culture of cooperation focused on nation-building.”

The Christian leaders have justified their “national Sabbath call” by underlining the absurdity of politics in their country stating, “The fact that the two main political parties remain stuck in the post-election mode and will soon embark on a new election mode means that Zimbabwe is unlikely to realize any meaningful engagement between these parties towards a shared constitutional alignment agenda.”

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“In the current context, the citizens have grown weary from struggling against the never-ending waves of electoral polarization that undermine their hard work, disrupt community building and erode progress,” the Christian leaders have stated, providing further justification for their call for a fast from politics for seven years.

Recognizing the limitations of their influence and the need to solicit the consent of Zimbabweans to support their call for a fast from politics, the four-body Church leaders are proposing a national referendum.

In their view, “the national referendum question would seek to ascertain from all Zimbabweans whether they agree with a proposal for a seven-year suspension of all political contestation for the sake of rebuilding trust and confidence by healing to all hurts of the past, sharing and executing a shared constitutional and political national reform agenda,  and establishing and implementing a shared national economic vision.”

They are regarding the sabbath call as a long-term process that would affect the delivery of essential services to citizens and have stated, “we as the church commit ourselves to upscaling our efforts towards health, education, development and humanitarian assistance.”

The leaders have also appealed to other stakeholders to intervene saying, “We call upon all political actors, state and non-state actors to respond to the immediate need for humanitarian assistance and social services to alleviate the suffering of Zimbabweans.”