Christians should rise above being used
July 23, 2017 in Opinion
The Bornwell Chakaodza column Rev Dr Levee Kadenge
Why is it that towards every election our nation is gripped by immense fear, yet around 80% of our people claim to be Christians? There are several reasons, a few of which we will discuss today. While there is much talk about state capture by powerful individuals, as is the case in South Africa by the Gupta family, the church in Zimbabwe has been captured by the state.
There is no plausible reason why a whole nation, as big as South Africa, should be held to ransom by a family. The same should go for the church. That it has been captured by the state shows that there is something fundamentally wrong. Both the state and the church are very powerful institutions that should command respect from each other.
Once the state is allowed to silence the church at any point without any moral reason, then questions should be answered by the church itself. States are very good at employing tactics of divide and rule. Sometimes they even create church organisations to run parallel to existing ones for their own selfish reasons. State created church organisations give themselves a semblance of legitimacy.
These are faith-based organisations meant to gloss over state excesses. They are given resources both in cash and kind to spread a view favourable to the ruling elite’s continued existence. Christians should rise above being used by politicians.
Individuals have also been sponsored by governments to masquerade as legitimate church leaders and these from time to time are interviewed to give an opinion contrary to the correct position of the church. A good example is when the church stands up against the poverty that has been spawned by corruption in the country. The explanation given by those sponsored church leaders is that those who are against corruption or other vices by the state are anti-government and therefore support regime change. In a big way, they would have also been corrupted by being sponsored to do various tasks that support the powers-that-be to facilitate their continued stay in power. Because they are benefitting from the support they get, they do not realise that it is only for a while.
In some instances, these church leaders have been given large pieces of land to parcel out to would-be voters. The intention is tantamount to bribery. Who does not want stands?
Corruption quickly creeps in and we find that those stands are given to particular party supporters. These church leaders will pretend all is well when they are being used to divide people in the name of using public land to benefit a few. When that happens, those who stand for justice are vilified. The church should speak truth to power without fear or favour. Government can also come up with ways to curb the influence of the church by applying what is known as the low intensity conflict approach on church officials. South American states majored in this approach, whereby church officials would be monitored and blackmailed so as to keep them in check.
Perhaps this is why Jesus prayed for his disciples towards the end of his ministry when he said, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but thou shouldest keep them from evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have also I sent them into the world.” (John 17: 14-18).
Such is the scourge of Africa. Those in power will always want to retain power by use of corrupt methods in the name of being benevolent to those in need. What we do not realise is that such overtures are gimmicks to turn people into being blind followers. People no longer see their real need for jobs because of the pieces of land, which in most cases remain pieces of land because the beneficiaries do not have money to start construction work.
Yet during the whole period one is in power, there is need to demonstrate that a government has people at heart by creating opportunities so that all live in peace and harmony. What we see is that towards elections these programmes of so-called empowering people come at the wrong time for those who can only make a claim of owning a piece of land they cannot even service.
What a travesty when powers-that-be dangle carrots which we cannot eat. The result is that the generality of people will be enticed by such gifts so that they support the status quo. For those who benefit from this Father Christmas approach, they are held captive by the system. This is holding captive the suffering masses.
If only people knew that they have all it takes because of their numbers. There is greater power in the masses than in the power of corruption which often caters for the few. Why can’t the people demand what they really need — freedom? States will not give people freedom unless they demand it.
The worst they can do is to give people the crumbs under the table and call that empowerment. We then revel in the understanding that half a loaf is better than nothing. Is this the uhuru that we fought for? We struggled so that no one would again be forced to do what they do not want to do. We fought against coercion and we thought we were free but what we experience are even worse conditions that border on slavery.
Did people fight to sleep in the open streets at night lest if one goes home they will not afford to come back the next day to sell their wares? Did people fight to sleep on queues waiting for their hard-earned cash only to be told that there is no money at the bank?
People join queues at local banks as early as possible. When the bank opens an official from the financial institution comes out and counts people who will be served that day. The rest are told not to waste their time but to go home.
These are the things the church should encourage government to address and not to wait until towards elections. Good programmes have come in too late only to be used for campaigning purposes. The main benefactors end up being those who are well placed.
Is it not true that those who are influential end up having more than one farm? Those who are powerful end up getting more inputs than others. In most cases, the majority of them do not even deserve to be assisted.
Such good schemes end up benefitting those who have and those who do not have influence end up picking the crumbs. All these things are done under the nose of the church. The influence of the church should help to liberate and not to enslave. There is great temptation for states to do selfish things in the name of helping people yet their intention is to capture the masses so that they are manipulated.
Let those with ears hear.
Levee Kadenge is a Theologian based at United Theological College. He can be contacted on
firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @LeveeKadenge