The economy is in bad shapeby Reinhard Backes, ACN International Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada
Felix Tachiona Mukaro is disappointed in his country’s politicians, as many Zimbabweans are. “All they care about is influence and power, not the country itself. And that although the economy is in bad shape and the people don’t know how they are supposed to make it through the day.” Felix Tachiona Mukaro has been a Catholic priest since 2007 and is currently working as a development consultant in the Chinhoyi diocese in northern Zimbabwe. Every day, the priest sees new evidence of how this East African country has been in a state of stagnation for years and how the – now open – fight for the legacy of the long-standing president, 90-year-old Robert Mugabe, is paralyzing Zimbabwe: “While administering pastoral care we clearly see just how deeply the majority of the people are suffering from this.”
“Many don’t even have a dollar a day in order to survive”
According to Father Felix, millions have in the meantime left Zimbabwe. They have gone to the neighbouring states of Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa as well as to the United States or Europe. Because the people no longer trust the local currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, those who can afford to, use the US dollar, euro, British pound or South African rand.
Many Zimbabweans who live abroad send money back home but “not everyone is so fortunate as to have family living abroad who can send help,” Father Felix emphasized during a talk with employees of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). He gave examples to show just how tense the situation is. “Many don’t even have a dollar a day in order to survive. When priests point out the widespread injustice, they are threatened or even physically attacked.”
The economic regression is palpable in the Chinhoyi diocese, which covers an area of 56,000 square kilometers, 95 percent of which is predominately rural: mines have been closed; farms that were once thriving have been expropriated and taken over by supporters of the governing party. Now the land lies fallow. Father Felix does not expect rapid political change because he feels that this must first be preceded by a change in mentality. He believes in the arduous, day-to-day pastoral work currently being carried out by 48 priests in the 19 parishes of the diocese.
However, they only have scant resources at their disposal. The distances they must travel are great and means of transportation, such as cars, are often not available. “Our diocese is dependent on aid. The Mass Offerings we receive, for example from Aid to the Church in Need, are very important for our priests because they really are destitute,” Father Felix said. He continued by explaining that the pastors cannot provide for themselves because they do not have an income. They also cannot count on the support of the faithful because they themselves barely have the basic necessities. For this reason, Aid to the Church in Need donated $ 28,000 CAN in Mass Offerings to the Chinhoyi diocese in both 2013 and 2014.
The diocese is grateful for this help. It ensures the livelihood of its priests and thus the continuation of pastoral care in rural areas.
“Our work is based solely on the Gospel and we defend its values. However, if we were to accept contributions from politicians, this would weaken our pastoral care because we would then have to justify their actions,” said Father Felix Tachiona Mukaro in closing.