The head of the Anglican church in Zimbabwe, Bishop Sebastian Bakare, has blamed State corruption and political patronage for a collapse in social services in Zimbabwe, where at least 20 people have died of cholera in recent weeks.
"Good governance, justice and peace remain a pipe dream for many in Zimbabwe," Bakare said in a pastoral letter circulated to Anglicans in the southern African nation in early October.
"Selfish leadership has no room for the neighbour. As you all know, most people have been without running water in their homes for months, let alone electricity, and there are no affordable food items," Bakare wrote.
He stated, "Cholera, a water-borne disease, has claimed several lives in Chitungwiza. In short, we have been messed up by a few men and women who have ravaged our economy through corruption and patronage."
Talks between rival Zimbabwean political leaders about the composition of a national unity government remained deadlocked on 17 October, a month after the signing in Harare of a power-sharing agreement to resolve the country's economic and political crisis.
Under the terms of the agreement, Robert Mugabe, who has led the southern African country since independence from Britain in 1980, was to remain as president. His rival, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change party, was to serve as prime minister, with Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a smaller MDC faction, as deputy prime minister.
Mugabe had been declared winner in a presidential run-off election in June boycotted by Tsvangirai, who cited violence and intimidation against his supporters.
Zimbabwe was seen as a model economy and regional breadbasket in the 1980s but agriculture went into rapid decline after the government began, in 2000, to seize white-owned commercial farms in a land reform programme.
Annual inflation rose to 231 million percent in August, according to official statistics while some independent financial analysts put the actual figure at 750 million percent. At least 80 percent of potential workers are without job, while about a quarter of the population requires food aid.
Three state universities have failed to open this term because, they say, they had failed to secure enough money to provide food for resident students and to pay their staff, who have been on indefinite strike.
An interdenominational Christian movement, Intercessors for Zimbabwe, has urged Zimbabweans to pray for the successful conclusion of the power-sharing agreement.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]