Nontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.
There is a popular saying that the most dangerous animal is one that has been fatally wounded. This idiom provides a framework for understanding the post-election crisis and escalating violence in Zimbabwe. Prior to the elections the government was confident of winning the elections and had no plan B - the idea of losing simply did not cross their minds; it was inconceivable! They lost and their behavior attests to this. No winner would behave the way they are doing. Their target is defenseless and unarmed Zimbabweans whom they are attacking with impunity. They are unleashing a low-intensity war against their own people in order to hold on to power.
A report by the churches in Zimbabwe documents the wave of repression, violence, and intimidation that is being systematically carried out across the country.
- Organized violence perpetrated against individuals, families, and communities who are accused of campaigning or voting for the "wrong" political party in the March 29 elections has been unleashed throughout the country, particularly in the countryside and in some high-density urban areas. People are being abducted, tortured, and humiliated by being asked to repeat slogans of the political party they are alleged not to support, ordered to attend mass meetings where they are told they voted for the "wrong" candidate and should never repeat it in the run-off election for president, and, in some cases, people are murdered.
- The deterioration in the humanitarian situation is plummeting at a frightful pace. The cost of living has gone beyond the reach of the majority of our people. There is widespread famine in most parts of the countryside on account of poor harvests and delays in the process of importing maize from neighboring countries. The shops are empty and basic foodstuffs are unavailable. Victims of organized torture who are ferried to hospital find little solace as the hospitals have no drugs or medicines to treat them.
As the shepherds of the people, we appeal:
- To the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (U.N.) to work toward arresting the deteriorating political and security situation in Zimbabwe. We warn the world that if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and other hot spots in Africa and elsewhere.
- For the immediate end to political intimidation and retribution arising from how people are perceived to have voted in the March 29, 2008, elections and arising from the desire to influence how people will vote in the anticipated run-off in the presidential poll. Youth militia and war veteran/military base camps that have been set up in different parts of the country should be closed as a step toward restoring the peace and freedom of people's movement that was witnessed before and during the elections.
- To ZEC to release the true results of the presidential poll of March 29 without further delay. The unprecedented delay in the publication of these results has caused anxiety, frustration, depression, suspicion, and, in some cases, illness among people of Zimbabwe both at home and abroad. A pall of despondency hangs over the nation, which finds itself in a crisis of expectations and governance. The nation is in a crisis, in limbo, and no real business is taking place anywhere as the nation waits.
- To, finally, the people of Zimbabwe themselves. You played your part when you turned out to vote. We, again, commend you for exercising your democratic right peacefully. At this difficult time in our nation, we urge you to maintain and protect your dignity and your vote. We urge you to refuse to be used for a political party or other people's selfish ends, especially where it concerns violence against other people, including those who hold different views from your own. It was the Lord Jesus who said, "Whatever you do to one of these little ones, you do it unto me (Matthew 25:45).
We call on all Zimbabweans and on all friends of Zimbabwe to continue to pray for our beautiful nation. As the shepherds of God's flock, we shall continue to speak on behalf of Zimbabwe's suffering masses and we pray that God's will be done.
This is a crime against humanity that needs to be confronted by the international community. The call for an international day of prayer on April 27 by Zimbabwean churches indicates the commitment to justice and peace by Zimbabweans that is rooted and informed by spiritual values and faith. We ask all persons of faith and goodwill to join us in prayer as we actively struggle for justice in Zimbabwe. Thank you and God bless.
RLCC Comment: While many of the complaints Mugabe lodges against the imperialism and colonialism of the Empire are entirely correct (the economic sanctions and boycotts are and were evil), Mugabe has allowed his wrong spirit to continue moving him to violence and coercion to achieve his aims. It won't work. It never has and never will.
The Empire is wrong, but using the fire of the Empire (evil violence) to fight the Empire does not eradicate that evil.
It is true that the evil will destroy each other, but those who overcome the temptation and trickery of evil (greed, violence, and sexual depravity) will find the real life in the spirit that transcends the mere flesh.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)