AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Social tensions, strikes, corruption and the risk of food emergencies

Saturday, 24 October 2020 corruption   society   poverty   food safety  

Harare (Agenzia Fides) - "The situation in our country is the subject of many concerns because of the continual violations of rights and the extreme poverty which concerns more and more people. It is estimated that by the end of the year 8 million of my fellow citizens (out of a total of about 15 million, ed) will be in food emergency". This is the concern expressed by Kenneth Mtata, Lutheran pastor and Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Almost three years after the dismissal of Robert Mugabe, at the head of Zimbabwe for a little less than 38 years, and two years after the elections which should have marked the definitive transition from a long dictatorship to a democracy bringing well-being and rights, ex Rhodesia is experiencing a rather difficult period on a social level. Kenneth Mtata said in an interview with Fides: "Schools have reopened but the teachers are on strike, they are protesting against low wages and demanding to be paid in US dollars, something that the government cannot afford to do. There is also a serious problem in health care: doctors and nurses have been on strike for 7 months now and the situation, in particular because of Covid-19, is very critical. The population is tired of the still very high levels of corruption and takes to the streets, but many arrests still take place by the police regarding demonstrators, journalists who denounce the mismanagement while we are still worried about the people kidnapped and missing because there is no news".
Christian Churches, under the aegis of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, are very active in pastoral and social action and also play a leading role at a political level. The Pastor concludes: "We have asked for the promotion of a national consensus, an open dialogue capable of creating the conditions for real progress, but the government has not yet given us an answer. In August, the Catholic Bishops' Conference wrote a letter to the executive, requesting interventions on the many problems that Zimbabwe is experiencing: economic crisis, inflation, which is at dramatic levels, poverty, human rights violation and corruption. The government responded rather harshly. The Churches remain united in any case to remind the government of its responsibilities and to demand policies of national unity and consensus". (LA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/10/2020)