THE Catholic Church has expressed concern over the plight of the poor in the country with the Jesuits in Zimbabwe insisting the country’s wealth must benefit the poor, not an “obscenely rich (elite who) live in fine mansions, drive expensive cars”.
The Jesuits call was echoed by Zimbabwe Bishops' Conference in a December 3 pastoral letter in which they said that three months after the July elections, “there are no visible prospects for improvement in the spheres of life in Zimbabwe that cry for restoration to give people hope for a better life.”
Writing in the magazine Jesuits and Friends, Fr Roland von Nidda SJ, parish priest of St Peter's Kubatana in Zimbabwe, said Zimbabwe's wealth of resources includes “the best educated people in Africa, the biggest diamond fields in the world and the second largest platinum deposits world-wide. But not much of this wealth trickles down to the mass of the poor”.
He points out in his article that the poverty rate in Zimbabwe is estimated to be around 70%, unemployment is approximately 80% and the gap between the rich and poor is among the highest in the world.
“The small echelon of obscenely rich live in fine mansions, drive expensive cars, eat out in the mushrooming restaurants and shop in smart malls stuffed with luxury items,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the great mass of the poor try to scratch a living on largely subsistence farming in their villages, or in the urban informal sector selling vegetables or goods bought from South Africa.”
Also writing in Jesuits and Friends, Fr Clyde Murope SJ of the Zimbabwe Province adds: “Having been in the doldrums for more than a decade, Zimbabwe now needs both local and international support …
“Development and growth is possible only if we all oppose corruption and complacency. The government and other players need to be of a positive mind towards reconstruction and growth in social amenities.”
In their pastoral December 3 letter Catholic bishops lamented the fact that “there are no visible prospects for improvement in the spheres of life in Zimbabwe that cry for restoration to give people hope for a better life” despite the country being “blessed with abundant natural resources and resilient, God-fearing and highly skilled people”.
The bishops set out a series of objectives to create a better life for all Zimbabweans.
“What it takes to realize these aspirations of our people and country is political will at all levels of our society and institutions to work towards the achievement of the common good, political will to transcend differences in order for all Zimbabweans to work together as one family, all leading to sustainable peace in our nation,” they wrote.