THE government of Zimbabwe can either continue on its current course or opt for a policy of consensus and consent, the general secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), the Revd Dr Kenneth Mtata, commented after last Friday’s protests and the arrest of demonstrators and journalists who exposed corruption.
On Saturday, Dr Mtata, a Lutheran, posted on Twitter: “Two choices our government has 1. Further sharpening of the sword ~ coercion. 2. Turning swords into ploughshares ~ consensus & consent. Coercion is too expensive and unsustainable. Consent is easily generated from humble and honesty engagement.”
The next day, Sunday, he reacted to the abduction and torture of Tawanda Muchehiwa, a nephew of the editor of the internet publication ZIMLive, Mduduzi Mathuthu. “This MUST stop. We have been this road before. The end is the same: NO WINNERS.”
The President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a nationwide address, said on Tuesday: “The bad apples who have attempted to divide our people and to weaken our systems will be flushed out.”
The hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter has been trending on social media, as the Zimbabwean diaspora joined in to raise awareness of arrests, abductions, and cases of torture back home. Some Zimbabwean Christians and many Anglican parishes and dioceses posted Bible verses that could be interpreted as commenting on the current situation. The Anglican bishops in Zimbabwe are part of the ZCC and are supportive of its course.
The Booker Prize-longlisted author Tsitsi Dangarembga, a Christian, was one of those supporting the anti-corruption protests. A week before the protests, on 24 July, she posted in Shona: “31July Verse found” “2 Kings 7 vs 4 ‘We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.’”
She was arrested with others, kept in a cell overnight, and released on bail, charged with inciting violence and breaching anti-coronavirus health regulations.