ZIMBABWE ‘UNDER SIEGE’ SAYS CHURCH LEADER
For immediate release
Bishop Levee Kadenge says the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has crippled the nation. The bishop says his country is ‘under siege and full of distress’.
Bishop Kadenge is the national convenor of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, which is supported by Christian Aid.
‘We do not deserve what is happening,’ says Bishop Kadenge. ‘We are demoralised, we have problem after problem. But we must remain faithful to the idea that Zimbabwe will have a good future.’
The cholera outbreak has affected more than 12,000 people and has killed close to 600. It was triggered in part by the breakdown in the country’s infrastructure and healthcare system as well a chronic shortage of clean water.
‘Cholera is just one of the problems faced by Zimbabweans,’ says William Anderson, Christian Aid’s country manager in Harare. ‘Many communicable and treatable diseases are rife due to the complete collapse of all public health systems.
‘Anthrax, TB, malaria, and diarrhoea are all present in the country at unprecedented levels. These are all due to the failed state, malnutrition and HIV.’
Bishop Kadenge stresses the churches have an important role in sending messages of hope and steadfastness to people across the country. He says the establishment of a Commission of Truth and Reconciliation is vital.
‘Such a commission, which must be led by the church and not the politicians, is a priority. We are a wounded people in desperate need of healing. We cannot pretend that nothing has happened. We must do our part and bring people together and repent,’ says the bishop.
Zimbabwe is also facing an extreme food shortage. Mr Anderson says it is ‘verging on famine’.
The UN’s World Food Programme says 4.2 million people need food aid but that it only has funds to feed 3.7 million.
There has also been a worrying spike in abductions of human rights workers in Zimbabwe. On 3 December, Jestina Mukoko, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was abducted from her home. She has not been seen or heard from since then, while the police deny arresting her.
‘We must pray for the future of Zimbabwe,’ says Bishop Kadenge. ‘Civil society organisations, NGOs and human rights groups are all part of God’s broader church and we must keep faith.’
By Judith Melby - Christian Aid