The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The Association of Evangelicals in Africa says “the Church’s response promises great prospects in charting a Zimbabwe that God wants”. Believers in Zimbabwe call “for national dialogue”.
Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe's President on Tuesday, ending 37 years of rule, after the the pressure of a military takeover that placed him under house arrest last Saturday.
The announcement came minutes into a joint session of the Zimbabwean Parliament in Harare, that had gathered to vote on a motion of impeachment of Mugabe.
"My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for a smooth, non-violent transfer of power", Mugabe said in a letter read out by Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of Parliament.
On the streets, the news sparked celebrations throughout the capital, with Zimbabweans honking car horns, waving flags, singing, dancing and cheering.
EMMERSON MNANGAGWA, NEW PRESIDENT
A spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party said that Emmerson Mnangagwa, 71, would serve the remainder of Mugabe's term until elections, which are due to take place by September 2018.
The state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) confirmed that his swearing-in ceremony had been scheduled for Friday.
"Together, we will ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy, and bring in a fresh start for all Zimbabweans and foster peace and unity," Mr Mnangagwa told Zimbabwe's NewsDay on Tuesday.
Mugabe’s downfall started on November 6, when he fired Mnangagwa, clearing the way for his wife, Grace Mugabe, to take over the presidency.
The military took the former President into custody, and the ZANU-PF party expelled him as its leader on Sunday, giving him an ultimatum to resign until Monday morning.
But Mugabe refused to step down as President in a televised address, forcing the Parliament to begin the impeachment process against him.
AEA CALLS TO PRAY FOR ZIMBABWE
The Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) believes that “without a doubt, this has been a period of political upheaval in Africa and as Church leaders, we have deep concerns about the African countries [...] and now the almost inevitable hand-over of power in Zimbabwe”.
In a public statement on Tuesday, AEA President Goodwill Shana said: “On behalf of the entire AEA, I would like to express our concern and offer solidarity, prayers and compassion to all who are forced to live under these difficult circumstances”.
“Having played various leadership roles in Zimbabwe, I want to send a message of solidarity to the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) for their zeal and visionary leadership exhibited during this period”, he adds.
Hours before the resignation of Mugabe, the AEA had called “for national dialogue and the need for a transitional government of national unity. The Church’s response promises great prospects in charting a Zimbabwe that God wants”.
The statement recalled that “the people of Zimbabwe have suffered in untold ways and must remain aware of the consequences of inaction and supporting self-seeking political actors. As Christians we must give witness to our faith”.
“We urge the AEA family to continue in your prayers both corporately and individually for all the nations going through some of the most difficult times”, Shana concludes.
“DISCERN THE FUTURE OF OUR NATION”
The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) joint statement mentioned by the AEA, encourages Zimbabwean Christians to “see the current situation not just as a crisis in which we are helpless, but as opportunity for the birth of a new nation. Our God created everything out of chaos”.
The EFZ calls Zimbabweans to pray for “individual and collective deep reflection on what this means for all of us as individuals, families, churches and the nation”, so that they could “find meaning in this situation and […] collectively and individually discern the next direction for us as a nation”.