Refusing to be Co-opted? Church Organizations and Reconciliation in Zimbabwe with Special Reference to the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe 2005 - 2013
Zimbabwe, throughout its history, has had a culture of violence and impunity which has resulted in massive displacements of people, murder, physical and traumatic memories of the past. In all the epochs of violence, it is worth noting that some church organizations were vocal and castigated the politicians whilst others were either indifferent or had been ‘co-opted’ by the political parties. By 2008, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) had lost its hegemony to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and in 2009 a government of national unity was formed at the instigation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) after witnessing unprecedented violence against the people during the 2008 elections. When the unity government was formed in 2009, an Organ of National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration was also formed to try and bring Zimbabweans together for healing and reconciliation. This study investigates why some church organizations have criticized political violence and participated in national healing and reconciliation while others are either co-opted by the political parties or have remained neutral. This paper will focus on the role played by the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) in the national healing program prior to and after the formation of the unity government. The ZCA has been lobbying politicians to campaign peacefully, while at the same time housing and counseling the victims of political violence among other activities. The ZCA’s role will be contrasted to that of Reverend Obadiah Musindo’s Destiny for Africa Network (DFAN) which is pro-ZANU-PF and campaigns for Mugabe, whom the church likens to the biblical Moses. It also attacks those churches that criticize ZANU-PF’s violence. The research was premised on primary data to obtain a voice from the churches concerned and the politicians on what role they see the church playing in politics and reconciliation in the country.
Keywords: National healing, MDC, ZANU-PF, Government of National Unity, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Destiny for Africa Network, churches, violence, reconciliation