The wealth of natural and human resources of Zimbabwe must benefit the poor of the country, not simply its elite, according to the Jesuits in Zimbabwe. Their call for a more just distribution of the country’s resources has been echoed by Zimbabwe Bishops’ Conference in a pastoral letter issued on 3 December, 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, says that 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 says. ‘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.’
Zimbabwe was, until 1978, part of the British Province of the Society of Jesus and Jesuit Missions in Britain continues to support Jesuits working in Zimbabwe. In his magazine article, Fr von Nidda details initiatives that the Jesuits in the country have instigated over the past 50 years, in particular ‘to offer educational opportunities to young Zimbabweans who were financially poor and who otherwise would roam the streets with no chance of a future.’
Fr Clyde Murope SJ of the Zimbabwe Province writes elsewhere in Jesuits and Friends: ‘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.’
The bishops’ pastoral letter is entitled A Proposed National Agenda for Restoration and Peace in Zimbabwe Following the July 2013 National Elections. In it, they lament 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.’Jesuits and Friends, published by the Jesuits in Britain in association with Jesuit Missions, is available now.
Either click here: http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=23754 pick up a copy from a Jesuit parish or contact Jesuit Missions at 11 Edge Hill, Wimbledon, London SW19 4LR.