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“Christians must soak elections with prayers”: Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe

Logos of the members of Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) Credit: ZHOCD/Facebook

Officials of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) are calling on the people of God in the Southern African nation to “soak” the 2023 general election process “with prayers.”

In a Tuesday, November 23 statement, ZHOCD officials who draw electoral lessons from the election of Matthias in the Acts of the Apostles also emphasize the need for lawful, inclusive, and transparent polls. 

“For elections to carry the weight they should have, Christians must soak elections with prayers,” the Christian leaders who include members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) say.

When praying, they add, Christians should not focus on imploring God for a specific candidate to emerge as a winner but instead “pray for discernment, honesty and courage.”

“The election process in Acts 1 was punctuated by prayer before, during and after the process. This was in recognition that whilst an election is a human activity, it is God who ‘knows people’s hearts’ and can therefore direct the voters,” ZHOCD officials say. 

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The Christian leaders in Zimbabwe say that the 2023 election “must also be an election, which is resonant with God’s will for us as a nation.”

Just like the election of Matthias, which comprised men and women, young and old, and the number of voters was well known, the Zimbabwean Christian leaders say, all eligible electors have the responsibility of voting.  

“Choosing leaders is a Christian responsibility. In voting, Christians are not only exercising their individual rights or civic duty, but they are also preparing a future for their children and generations to come,” ZHOCD officials say. 

In their nine-page statement, Christian leaders in the Southern African nation also insist on an election that will adhere to the country’s Constitution. 

They say, “Those participating in the elections in Acts 1 based their election on the scriptures of the Old Testament which were at their disposal. They felt that they were on safe foundations because what they were doing was sanctioned by the most sacred tenets of scriptures.”

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“When we go and vote, our election processes are guided by the 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution,” the representatives of Christians leaders say, and call for a commitment “to a constitutional process in elections.”

Christian leaders also need to study and understand the constitutional provisions about free, fair and credible elections, they further say in their statement titled, “The Elections We Want: Choosing Leadership as a Theological Imperative”.

ZHOCD officials also underscore the need to engage political aspirants, saying voters in the Acts of the Apostles wanted leaders who had been with Jesus from the beginning. 

Borrowing from voters in the Acts of the Apostles, ZHOCD officials say engaging political aspirants “will enable Christians to ascertain the character and capacities of those who desire to occupy public office.”

“It is important that the local church assesses the capabilities of those who wish to represent them in Councils, Parliament, and as Presidents so that their choices are not based on feelings but on reason,” say officials of the body that also includes representatives from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (UDACIZA), and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe. 

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Like the election of Matthias, which was characterized by transparency, ZHOCD officials also call for the 2023 polls to be “predictable in terms of the process.”

“It must be clear how people are going to vote, how their votes will be counted, how the results will be collected, and how they will be announced in a reasonable time prescribed by the law,” they say. 

Such elections, the representatives of the various Christian denominations in Zimbabwe say, produce trust and confidence in the elected leaders.  

“In many situations, elections have failed to usher hope among people because the people were ostracized, they did not participate, the election was violent, or the election was compromised,” they observe, and add that sometimes, the post-election period turns violent because there is no clear acceptance of results. 

“Great leaders are magnanimous in victory, and gracious in defeat. Those who lose elections must be able to accept results while those who win must be gracious to losers,” ZHOCD officials say. 

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They add that Zimbabwe needs a more inclusive process to deal with post-election crisis. 

As part of their commitment to see peaceful and tolerant elections, the Christian leaders promise to “convene dialogue with all political spaces to share its ecumenical election covenants” and “prepare pre-election citizens dialogue to prepare their ecumenical election covenants.”

The Church leaders also promise to deploy election observers to all polling stations. 

Election observers, they say, "will prepare a parallel election results tabulation, not to announce results, but to have its own facts and figures in case of disputes." 

ZHOCD officials also call on all independent commissions that support democracy in the Southern African nation to “prepare an election peace pact to be signed by all political parties.”

They further express the wish that political aspirants “take time to engage different sectors of society, not only to give promises, but also to hear what the people want.”

In supporting the aspirants, the representatives of Christian leaders in Zimbabwe say they will promote the upholding of freedom of movement, assembly, association, speech and access to information. 

In order to avoid post-election violence, the Church leaders recommend the establishment of an all-inclusive and broad-based post-election healing and national envisioning process. 

They also call on Zimbabweans to consider having a National Day of Prayer after the 2023 polls to commit the new political leadership to God.