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Peace Committees begin pastoral visits

Kudzai Chikiwa, Chronicle Reporter CHURCHES in Bulawayo have formed peace committees which will move around western suburbs preaching peace following the recent violent protests that rocked the city. Protestors allegedly linked to the opposition MDC Alliance unleashed a reign of terror in most western suburbs starting on Monday after a three-day stay away called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

Zimbabwe Christian Churches Alliance president Reverend Useni Sibanda yesterday told The Chronicle that the peace committees are comprised of church leaders drawn from different denominations and residents.

He said the peace committees would start work in due course, but at the moment they have started pastoral visits.

“We have started pastoral visits to different affected people where we try and explain to them the importance of peace in a nation. However, we are yet to sit down as church leaders and decide on a day when we will have a combined church peace-making service as we did towards the July harmonised elections last year,” he said.

“Even in the Bible, prophets worked as advisors of Kings and they were pioneers of peace. Our priority is making sure that there is a peaceful co-existence between the Government and its people.

“We formed these committees in line with what the Bible says in Matthew that blessed are peace makers. The church is there to make peace during such times when the environment seems tense and some people have opted for violence than peaceful dialogue.”

The ZCC president said they are yet to embrace the idea at national level.

“We are still operating at a provincial level but we are looking forward to expanding this to all provinces.

“Bulawayo has been a bastion of peace as you remember that we brought many political parties together towards the July elections last year,” he said.

Rev Sibanda slammed violence saying it does not solve the country’s economic challenges.

“These protests were ignited by fuel prices coupled with unemployment and basic commodities price hikes. However, people missed the idea of a shutdown, ideally it was supposed to be a peaceful shutdown. Violence will never solve anything, that’s why we are calling for peaceful dialogue,” he said.

Rev Sibanda said the majority of looters are youths who might be frustrated by joblessness.

“These youths are mostly school leavers and they do not have jobs. They are frustrated and are just taking advantage of the status quo. They looted from shops and vandalised property which is uncalled for. They need to be taught the value of peace because their behaviour costs the nation,” he said.

In July last year, ZCC pioneered the signing of a Peace Pledge by 11 political parties countrywide ahead of the harmonised elections.

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