Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe have accused the government of carrying out human rights abuses and cracking down on dissent, prompting a swift denial by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration which described the allegations as “evil” and baseless.
In a pastoral letter read out at Catholic churches on Sunday, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference said the country was suffering from “a multi-layered crisis”, including economic collapse, deepening poverty, corruption and human rights abuses.
“Fear runs down the spine of many of our people today. The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented,” the bishops said in the strongly-worded letter.
“Is this the Zimbabwe we want? To have a different opinion does not mean to be an enemy.”
In response, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa criticised the head of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, and described the pastoral letter as an “evil message” meant to stoke a “Rwanda-type genocide”.
“His [Ndlovu’s] transgressions acquire a geopolitical dimension as the chief priest of the agenda of regime change that is the hallmark of the post-imperial major Western powers for the last two decades,” Mutsvangwa said in a statement.