By Byron Mutingwende
The church has added its voice to the anti-corruption crusade as the vice undermines society’s capacity to develop. That emerged during a prayer summit against corruption that was organised by Grace International Zimbabwe Ministries at the Dorothea Mission in Harare’s Kambuzuma High Density Suburb.
Speaking at the summit, Rev. Wyson Dutch, the Chairperson of Grace International Ministries, said that in Christianity, the real character of the people is spelt out by the instructions to amend their sinful ways. He quoted the Bible from Isaiah 1: 15-20 and Amos 3: 9-4:3 whereby the Israelites were found guilty of murder, unrighteous lifestyles and oppressing the poor.
“The Israelites were accused of dealing falsely with the widows and orphans, the most vulnerable and underprivileged group in their society. The only way in which they could put things right with God was to be cleansed and purified,” Dutch said.
Dutch said that just like in the Israeli community of that time, Zimbabwe had seen an upsurge of corruption characterised by a situation whereby those occupying high echelons of power like businessmen and politicians were oppressing the poor by amassing wealth to themselves while the majority lived in abject poverty.
His sentiments were echoed by Bishop Ancelimo Magaya who urged politicians and those holding high offices in society to desist from wrongdoing and learn to administer just judgment, and defend the cause of the oppressed.
“Not only does Amos encourage justice, but God’s word came later through Jeremiah with similar denunciation, Jeremiah 22:17. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah are building upon Deuteronomy 28. If blessing is to come to the people, there has to be repentance and the resolution to act with appropriate righteousness in their dealings with others. The same care and protection of widows and orphans is commanded in the New Testament in James 1:27,” Magaya said.
Alec Korongwe, the Accountability and Monitoring Committee officer under Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ)’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) bemoaned the fact that society was breaking up, with lawlessness reigning supreme.
“The poor and the weak suffer terrible oppression. Many people no longer know what is right to do. They are engrossed in plunder and loot. Wealth is now gained by exploitation, corruption and stealing. But they are always wanting more, so greedy have they become!” Korongwe said.
ALAC Team Leader, Danai Mabuto took a dig on corruption that is rampant within the local government and local authorities.
“Recently, we have witnessed unprecedented cases of corruption involving top government officials and church leaders especially over corrupt allocation of pieces of land in urban centres. The church should be seen as a torchbearer of uprightness and good morality but when it engages in clandestine land deals, it becomes a social ill that must be denounced in the strongest of terms,” Mabuto said.
Head of the Christian Faith Church, Bishop Jonathan Masamba said that what was obtaining in Zimbabwe was similar to what the Philistines, represented by Ashdod and Egyptians, were known for their wickedness, especially for the way they mistreated the poor.
“If corruption isn’t addressed, Zimbabwe will fall just as the prophets said that Israel would fall, not because of the superior power of Assyria but because of its spiritual and social corruption. The stronghold was filled with oppression, and with violence and robbery. Thus, Israel had forfeited God’s protection, and without him all their natural defences were useless.”
The Head of Investigations at the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), Servious Kufandada, said that the lack of political will to address corruption necessitated the need to engage the church which provided society with good moral guidance.
“Christianity is the religion with the greatest following in Zimbabwe. As such, the church plays role in guiding people’s character morally and spiritually. Thus, it is important to engage the church on the advantages associated with shunning corruption,” Kufandada said.