Surprises in Zimbabwe
My brief visit to Zimbabwe had a few surprises, such as availability of basic foodstuffs instead of empty shelves in supermarkets. This has come about because of the replacement of local currency with foreign currency such as US$ and ZAR and no more astronomical monetary units such as 'billions and trillions '! The problem for many people is accessing foreign currency because the economy is struggling to recover and the unemployment rate remains extremely high at around 80%!
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Despite attempts to resuscitate the unity government it still remains in a state of semi-paralysis struggling to bring fundamental changes because of the ongoing power struggles. Were it not for assistance from donor agencies that work directly with communities, providing food, medicine, and resources for survival, it is hard to imagine how majority of the people would survive.
The influence of the church on all levels continues to grow, as is evident in the growing numbers of churches and the dominance of gospel music on local music charts. History has shown how spiritual power can overcome political obstacles. For example, the fall of the Berlin Wall that led to the reunification of Germany has been attributed to the prayers of Christians. Neighbouring South Africa is another example of the effectiveness of spiritual power. Another positive offspin of spiritual power is the strengthening of community networks based on shared values such as compassion, common good, relationship, respect, dignity of the human person, communal life, and justice -- which contribute to what has become known as 'social capital'. Therefore let us continue to pray and be open to the liberating guidance and work of the Spirit. God bless.
Nontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.