The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have cautiously welcomed news of the power-sharing deal reached between the Zanu-PF and MDC political parties in Zimbabwe. But they have expressed concern about the practical realities.
The full details of the deal are still to be revealed. Both the USA and Europe have said that they will hold a decision on the suspension of economic sanctions to see what transpires.
There is concern that President Mugabe will use his considerable power to continue to thwart democracy and human rights. Opponents of the regime are divided in their reaction, with some fearing it is an untenable "deal with the devil".
"It leaves Mugabe's killing machine in tact, one opposition group told Ekklesia yesterday.
Roy Crowder, Methodist Partnership Coordinator for Africa, commented today: "Clearly Zanu-PF have reached a point of weakness and cannot continue to run the country alone, possibly because their funding has run out and they can no longer afford to control the security forces. Both parties are strong in different ways.
"Zanu-PF holds the reins of institutional power, but the international community refuses to recognise their status. While the MDC has had no institutional control, their presence in government could unlock international aid for the reconstruction of this desperate country. Much will now depend on which party influences and controls the Zimbabwean security forces.’
“Many people have taken significant risks to outline a vision for a new Zimbabwe," continued Frank Kantor, Secretary for Church and Society for the United Reformed Church.
He added: "The country desperately needs courageous leadership to make this vision a reality and to find ways to balance the requirements of justice with those of national healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe are looking for permanent long-term change. It will be difficult for this power-sharing arrangement to deliver fundamental reforms unless it addresses this need."
The Churches recognises that people inside and outside the situation are praying for the situation in Zimbabwe and have offered the following prayer for use by individuals, groups and congregations:
Lord of order in chaos,
Bring your peace where there is no peace,
Bring your sustenance where there is no bread,
Bring your wisdom where all is in disorder,
Bring your comfort where there is fear,
Bring your justice where injustice reigns.
Bless the people and politicians of Zimbabwe
and guide them to a just and stable future.