The Common Good

Seeking Wisdom in Zimbabwe's Peace Talks

I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.
By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;
by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.

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—Proverbs 8:12-16

Wisdom is the key ingredient in the revival of talks under way between the government's party (ZANU-PF) and the opposition MDC. On Monday, these two parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which sets down the framework for talks about a future government for Zimbabwe. The language of human rights, the dignity of the person, and freedom of speech and press, etc., makes this document a "foreign language" in the context of Zimbabwean politics! Here are some excerpts:

The Parties are committed to ensuring that the law is applied fairly and justly to all persons irrespective of political affiliation.

Each Party will issue a statement condemning the promotion and use of violence and call for peace in the country and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that the structures and institutions it controls are not engaged in the perpetration of violence ... [each] shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or undermine each other.

It is a small step in the right direction; as a Chinese proverb says, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Thank you for your prayers and support. There are many challenges that face the negotiation process, and in our prayers let us include the following:

a. The cessation of violence.

b. Wisdom for all involved to ensure that democracy, human rights, and the interests of the Zimbabwean people remain central to the process.

c. Implementation challenges that require “mind shifts” from security organs.

d. Extraordinary wisdom and strategy to come up with a solution that fits in with the unique needs of Zimbabwe.

e. Groups that have gained considerably from the status quo and have the potential to derail the process.

f. A way forward without violence.

May Wisdom bring forth justice, peace, and prosperity for Zimbabwe. Thank you so much for your prayers and commitment. May God bless you, too, in all your ways. Shalom!

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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