More from Zimbabwe

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

“Are you afraid?” vs. “Do not be afraid!”

Well, the once-respected, now authoritarian Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe for the past 25 years, has “won” again. In an election marred by widespread suspicion of tampering and repression, Mugabe’s party took 78 seats in Parliament and the opposition (Movement for Democratic Change) took 41. Mugabe gets to appoint 30 more seats. His greeting to journalists on April 2 at his first press conference following the election was, “Are you afraid?” He vowed a tough response to crush any strikes, marches, and protests that might occur. He describes dissenters as “very violent people” and vowed to put down any mass action. “We don’t accept pressure,” he boasted. (Boston Globe, 4/3/05)

It would seem that Zvakwana, the resistance movement in Zimbabwe that looked so promising three weeks ago, is all washed up (see March 29 post). But that is not necessarily the case. Perhaps Zvakwana is just gearing up. Pope John Paul II made his first triumphal visit to Poland 14 months before Lech Walensa founded the Solidarity trade union. The fall of Communism in Poland came a decade later, in 1989. It was the papal visit itself that galvanized the Polish people—-as Krzysztof Kozlowski, deputy editor of an influential Polish Catholic newspaper said, “We simply stopped being afraid” (Boston Globe, 4/3/05). The Holy Father will always be remembered for his greeting on the occasion of that historic visit: “Do not be afraid!”

We can pray for the protest movement in Zimbabwe, that it would be guided and upheld by the Spirit. This could be another act of God in our time for the people of Africa.

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