Sunday 26 November 2023


1. It's been a year [November  2022] since I physically left Zimbabwe to assume my new responsibility at the global ecumenical space. My public theology and engagement have, however, remained shaped and informed by the developments in my beloved country, Zimbabwe. I love my country and my people,  hence this long weaning process. But, this relationship can no longer be sustained. I am moving on.

2. My new responsibilities require me to read the global landscape as it impinges on the vision of God's kingdom of unity, peace,  justice,  and abundant life for all people. While Zimbabwe will remain important from my personal orientation, it ceases to be the main source for my public theology and engagement.

There are, however, three issues that I must mention in these parting words.

3. First, I encourage us not to give up on the value of participatory democracy in our nation-building agenda. Democracy  (a) allows all people to choose the leaders they want on the basis of accurate information, (b) allows all people to meaningfully participate in their national affairs without fear or coercion,

(c) ensures the equal protection of the rights of all citizens, and

(d) it ensures that all our engagements are regulated and protected by laws. This creates order, predictability, and protection for everyone.

4.  Democracy has been under threat for some time now, but right now, it is at the throes of death because of two main forces. The first is the force of capital. Capital eats democracy for lunch because it knows no nationality and can get what it wants since everything has a price. It is my hope that God's people will say, "Not everything can be sold for money."

The second challenge for democracy is that it has not been consistently applied and has not always contributed meaningfully to the well-being of the people. Therefore, it suffers a credibility challenge. It doesn't have a great track record, yet it remains the best alternative system of governance. Any system that denies people meaningful participation and freedoms is not sustainable even if it appears successful for a time.

5. I am not talking about democracy only at the national level,  although that is the ultimate aim. I am more concerned about democracy and good governance within the political parties and institutions. If there is no democratic culture in the political parties and the other spheres of society, it won't miraculously come to life at the national level. The levels of mistrust in our current political environment makes broad participation not attractive. Followers prefer ready-made answers while "messianic" leaders are impatient for meaningful engagement.

6. Second, nation-building requires self-respect. Self-respect as a virtue means that we can not treat each other with indignity and expect the world to respect us. We need to treat each other the way we want other nations to treat us. Self-respect also means that we choose the best among us to carry out representative tasks. We need to honour merit and competence.

7. Since the liberation struggle,  we have relied on one attribute as the basis for leadership,  namely, courage. One needed courage to fight the settler colonial regime because it was risky. One needed (still needs) courage to confront the post-independence despotic systems because it was risky. Courage and sacrifice are important values. Actually,  without them,  we will never break some important new ground. Yet, courage alone is not enough. We need know-how and competence. Self-respect means that we are not afraid of people who are better than us in some areas. At the same time, we don't get intimidated by differences if we respect ourselves.

8. The third, since nation-building is my calling, I WILL BE BACK!! Rev Dr Kenneth Matata writing on X


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