In a recent Bishops’ Pastoral Letter, it said: “While we wish you grace and blessing in your new land, we hope that one day you will consider coming home. Yet we cannot expect you to return to a land without welcome, opportunity and reconciliation. As we said before and say again, ‘real genuine healing and reconciliation can only take place when the environment is open, free and democratic’. “This is currently not the case. Sadly, this statement still remains true.”
The Bishops said: “Let us Work for the Common Good” and added “God hears the cry of the oppressed.”
It quoted the biblical St Paul who says: “Rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”.
It also cited (Romans.5; 3-5) “Find consolation and strength in the Lord by reflecting on Scripture passages like Psalms 23 and 121. In your pain and emotional struggles find strength in each other especially in the Church. Encourage each other to find a home in the Church by praying together, sharing the Word of God, joining various associations and worshipping as a family away from home.”
“Be assured that there are people – within government, civil society and the churches – not least ourselves, who are committed to the road of national healing and reconciliation, to the common good and to creating a better society for all people. Be patient with current efforts which require so much energy and take so much time. Know that you contribute to these efforts by your continued vigilance and advocacy in foreign lands. Know also that we can only overcome hatred with love, falsehood with truth, fear with courage.
“This is the gospel way. It leads ultimately to freedom, truth and the fullness of life. It is the only way we know and wish to follow. Journey with us as we journey in spirit with you.”
The Bishops said they were aware of the many hazards that confronted those who crossed the borders which results in women being raped or killed.
They said they sympathised with the struggles the Diasporians faced daily such as: loss of jobs, lack of proper shelter, loss of loved ones back home and breakdowns in marriages among other things.
The Bishops also expressed concern that the threat of xenophobia was real in certain communities. In 2008 xenophobia claimed 62 lives in South Africa.
They said the letter was a testament to their desire to acknowledge the existence of the Diaspora, their story, their pain, their resilience and their hope.
“This experience of being unwanted has been worsened by the overall failure of political discourse within Zimbabwe to focus with serious intent on the exodus of its people,” noted the Bishops.
“The greatest asset of any country is its own people. Very few politicians have visited border areas, or crossed borders to witness at first hand the situation of their fellow Zimbabweans. It is not politically expedient to acknowledge the reality of the on-going displacement of Zimbabwean people, especially since the Global Political Agreement was signed in September 2008 and the Government of National Unity formed in February 2009. On-going displacement, at best, suggests political challenge; at worst, political ineptitude, division and failure. The vast majority of those who leave are seen as politically insignificant and expendable. Their only ‘merit’ is the remittances sent home to prop-up a severely depressed economy.”