Thursday, August 1, 2013

Zimbabwean Crossroads

My heart is breaking for the people of Zimbabwe today.  Here's a brief history lesson:

In 1980, Robert Mugabe was elected president of Zimbabwe, ending white minority rule of Zimbabwe.  That alone is by no means a bad thing!  It is a beautiful thing in my eyes.  However, Mugabe quickly turned out to be an autocrat, holding on to power at all costs.  He bullied all Zimbabweans, but specifically white Zimbabweans.  He stole their land, claiming that he would redistribute it to poor black Zimbabweans.  This didn't happen, and instead, he gave large parcels of arable land to his political supporters.  Instead of farming it to provide for the nation both in jobs and nourishment, these new land owners allowed the land to sit fallow.  The country quickly fell into turmoil.  By 2009, the Zimbabwean currency had collapsed, and they're now completely dependent on the American dollar.  The most recent unemployment/underemployment statistics are from 2009, and are at NINETY FIVE PERCENT (CIA World Factbook)!  All of this, and Mugabe refuses to leave office.  In 2008, he lost the presidential election, but refused to leave office, coming to a compromise that essentially allowed him to co-rule with the real election winner.  Not cool, friends.   A phenomenal documentary to watch about this is Mugabe and the White African.

In our work in Zambia, we've met several Zimbabweans who work in Zambia and travel home once or twice a month.  Their personal outlooks about the future of their nation are bleak at best and full of despair at worst.  They work hard to overcome circumstances brought on by a government they do not support and did not request to be in power.  How disheartening!  Yet, their determination to make the best of what they have and rest in the peace Jesus brings is an encouragement to all.

Yesterday was their most recent round of presidential elections.  The ballot casting process itself was very peaceful.  Thank You, Jesus!

While a winner has yet to be officially named, allegations of 'ghost' voters, double voting, badgering of potential opposition voters, and other forms of rigging are being reported by various sources.  The AU has said the election was free and fair, but Botswana has claimed it was rigged, and South Africa is quietly admitting it too.  Sadly, these nations are tired of seeing Zimbabwean refugees seeking employment coming into their nations and are want to stay out of this latest election.  While I understand wanting to care for their own, their lack of insistence that their neighbor straighten up is disheartening. Mugabe is 89 years old, and in all likely hood, he won't live to see the end of this 'term'.  Talk is already swirling about who he and his party will name as his successor.  Peace, stability, and democracy haven't been seen in Zimbabwe in nearly 30 years. Crocodile tears dripped down my checks while reading articles today of interviews with people who have lost all hope in their government.  I realize many Americans don't like the current state of our own government, but at least the peoples' voices are heard and elections are respected here.  I long for that in Zimbabwe! 

Jesus, bring Your hope to these people as they live within the bonds of earthly rulers.  Come quickly, Jesus, and restore Your Kingdom on earth.  And may the rest of us never tire of helping those who are oppressed by their governments.


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