The Common Good

Prophetic Lament and Glimmers of Hope for Zimbabwe

How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
"Violence is everywhere!" I cry,
but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.

--Habakkuk 1:2-4a

Habakkuk's lament reflects the lament of many in Zimbabwe. Incidents of violence continue to be widespread, intimidation of the opposition continues and lately the setting up of "re-education" camps designed to communicate one message namely that citizens have only one choice in the elections and that is to vote for the current government. All these activities are considered "preparation and campaigning" for a "free and fair" election. Clearly these are not actions of a confident and self-assured party that can hold its own ground and face its opposition head-on in a free and fair election!

However, in the midst of what often appears to be a hopeless situation, glimmers of hope are emerging. Three stand out for me. The first is the upcoming visit by the U.N. special envoy to Zimbabwe to assess the situation. Secondly, the announcement by President Mbeki of South Africa, who is the appointed mediator of the Zimbabwean situation on behalf of the 14 countries in Southern Africa (a.k.a. SADC), that election monitors will be sent before the elections to ensure that the conditions for a free and fair election prevail. Finally and significantly the financial contribution as well as pressure from the USA is responsible for both these initiatives. We thank you for your prayers and support. Please pray for the success of these initiatives. God heard and responded to the lament of Habbakuk. God will indeed respond to the lament of the people of Zimbabwe.

Nontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.

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