Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Zimbabwe to meet Vatican envoy over Catholic bishops’ criticism

Members of Not In My Name SA Movement protest in solidarity with Zimbabweans at the Zimbabwean Embassy on August 07, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa. It is reported that the group protested against the alleged human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe. The country is facing challenges with the decaying economy, the health system has collapsed and the unemployment rate is alarming. (Photo by Gallo Images/Lefty Shivambu)

HARARE, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government on Wednesday said it had sought a meeting with the Vatican representative to understand whether Catholic bishops who accused it of human rights abuses and cracking down on critics were speaking on behalf of the Holy See.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi described a pastoral letter written by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference last weekend as “inappropriately prescriptive and grossly disrespectful”.

The bishops’ strongly worded letter said the country had a multi-layered crisis, including economic collapse, deepening poverty, corruption and human rights abuses.

Inflation running at more than 800% is the clearest sign of the worst economic crisis in over a decade and has evoked memories of hyperinflation under former president Robert Mugabe, whose 37-year rule was ended by an army coup in 2017.

Ziyambi said Harare authorities took offence to the bishop’s description of the government, headed by Mugabe’s replacement, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as lacking the knowledge, skill or emotional stability to resolve Zimbabwe’s political and economic problems.

“The statement constitutes an outright insult on the person of President E.D. Mnangagwa and his entire government, and is couched in language decidedly unbecoming of an institution such as the Catholic Church,” said Ziyambi.

“Government is compelled to engage the Vatican in order to ascertain whether or not such statements reflect the official attitude of the Holy See towards Zimbabwe’s leadership or whether these are merely the views of the various individuals concerned.”

Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo would meet the local Vatican representative, said Ziyambi.

Ziyambi denied there was a political crisis in Zimbabwe and said it was all social media hype.

But critics say several activists have been arrested, abducted or tortured for speaking against the government and accuse Mnangagwa of using the COVID-19 pandemic to stifle dissent. (Reporting by Macdonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Emma Rumney and Giles Elgood)

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.