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Catholic bishops lay into ED

BY MOSES MATENGA CATHOLIC bishops in the country have called President Emmerson Mnangagwa to order over escalating human rights abuses and worsening political and economic situation in the country, and warned him that his attempts to muzzle angry voices would only make matters worse. In a pastoral letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference on the current situation in Zimbabwe released yesterday, the bishops from across the country also endorsed the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign that put on spotlight the human rights abuses in the country. The letter was signed by Robert Ndlovu, Archbishop of Harare, Alex Thomas, Archbishop of Bulawayo, Paul Horan and Bishop of Mutare, who are the conference’s president, vice-president and secretary respectively. Others who signed the letter are Michael Bhasera (Bishop Masvingo), Albert Serrano (Bishop Hwange), Rudolf Nyandoro (Bishop Gokwe) and Raymond Mupandasekwa (Bishop Chinhoyi). “The struggle in Zimbabwe, between those who think they have arrived and those on the march, has resulted in a multi-layered crisis of the convergence of economic collapse, deepening poverty, food insecurity, corruption and human rights abuses among other crises in urgent need of resolution,” the bishops’ letter read in part. “The call for demonstrations is the expression of growing frustration and aggravation caused by the conditions that the majority of Zimbabweans themselves are in. Suppression of people’s anger can only serve to deepen the crisis and take the nation into deeper crisis.” Zimbabwe is in the grip of its worst political and economic crises in a decade that has seen doctors and nurses at public health institutions down tools, shortages of medicines and foreign currency while wages are failing to keep up with rampaging inflation which was recorded at 737,26% in June. Mnangagwa blames the opposition, Western sanctions, civic organisations and natural causes such as drought, cyclones and the COVID-19 pandemic for the problems. Last month, he deployed security forces to block planned opposition protests over corruption and the worsening economic hardships, with critics saying he was using the lockdown restrictions to lock human rights. Over 60 opposition members were abducted and tortured ahead of the planned protests, while over 30 went into hiding. A social media campaign #ZimbabweanLivesMatter hashtag, which has been trending triggered by an angry reaction to rights abuses in the country by South African opposition leaders, last week forced South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa to deploy special envoys to the country. The bishops yesterday endorsed the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter campaign, despite Mnangagwa saying there was no crisis in the country. “The voices of various governments, the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations on the desperate situation in Zimbabwe have not only confirmed the seriousness of human rights breaches by government agents but the need to rally behind #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.” The bishops said Mnangagwa had missed an opportunity to right the

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