Zimbabwe Theological Seminary & African Baptist Churches in Zimbabwe
-from virtual visit with Henry and Hermina Mugabe, Nov. 21, 2020, hosted by JourneyPartners, a 2020 ministry partner of the Alliance
The leadership at Zimbabwe Theological Seminary are thankful they are able to continue with theological education despite the challenges in the country!
On Nov. 20th Zimbabwe Theological Seminary [ZTS] graduated 21 students at the seminary. The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches was their guest for graduation in a ceremony that was held at the Anglican Cathedral. Even though they were only able to have 100 people present because of the pandemic, the level of excitement at graduation was high!
This year’s graduates come from many different denominations, and are going to serve in different churches, as well as serving as chaplains. The denominations represented among the student body include various Pentecostal churches, Anglican, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics – and Baptists!
One of the interesting things that is happening at the seminary is that they have students who come to them from the Baptist Conv. of Zimbabwe! Even though the convention does not allow them to attend ZTS, they want to be private students so they will not get in trouble. Women are by far the majority of the student body now.
In the past some ZTS graduates would have become teachers. Since schools are not functioning at the moment, and teachers are not going to school, there were no teachers among the graduates. Also, ZTS makes sure their graduates develop skills so they can survive on their own. Along with academic preparation, they learn to farm, grow vegetables, and keep chickens, rabbits or ducks – so they can help themselves.
The economic situation in Zimbabwe is bad and people are hungry. Unemployment is now about 95% and inflation is about 700%. The World Food Program is helping a lot of people, with families receiving about $12 per head in each family. Western Union always has a long queue of people getting their monies to go and buy food. Without that help, the situation would be worse. The African Baptist Churches of Zimbabwe [ABCZ] have been able to help in providing food hampers for people. Tomorrow ABCZ is going to be distributing maize seed to two churches. If they can grow their crops, then there will be food. Even though there has been some rain, more is needed. This year they are hopeful for a normal amount of rainfall that will aid in producing food.
COVID-19 is in Zimbabwe, and the statistics are going higher and higher on a daily basis. People are also bringing the virus in from other countries. People are urged to maintain all the health protocols to prevent the transmission. South Africa has the highest number of infections with COVID in all of Africa. It costs $60 USD to get a COVID test. Anyone arriving or leaving the country has to be tested.
Zimbabwe’s hospitals are short-staffed because of challenges with salaries. Some hospitals have no medications. And patients are also suffering because of the shortages of staff. With doctors and nurses on strike, all who qualify for medical school, have to be enrolled in the army – so they cannot go on strike. And the former military leader is now the minister of health.
Some people say they would rather die of COVID than die of hunger. When Henry and Hermina go to our church in the village – they try to get them all personal protective equipment and teach them about the health protocols to prevent this infection from spreading. Some people do not take it seriously and will say, “God will help us, and we don’t need to use all this.” Those who take it seriously are the ones who have had a relative get infected or die. It is important to keep educating people, because they know few people who have died of it.
Voter intimidation is no stranger to Zimbabwe! United States’ experiences of voter intimidation are mild compared to what has been experienced in Zimbabwe.
Most of all, Henry and Hermina expressed thanks for their friends and partners in the U.S. who continue to remember and support the work in Zimbabwe. And we in the Alliance of Baptists give thanks to God for the mission and ministry of Zimbabwe Theological Seminary and the African Baptist Churches of Zimbabwe!
COVID-19 Disproportionately Affects Women and Children
June 9, 2020
Thank you very much for our concern about us in Zimbabwe. We are also concerned about the situation in the U.S. in terms of the Covid-19. We continue to pray that the situation will get better and that a cure will be found soon. Here in Zimbabwe the official numbers are quite low and we are not sure if this is the true reflection of the reality on the ground. Just like in the U.S. the lockdown restrictions have had a huge negative impact on the populace. This is compounded by the fact that before the Covid-19 pandemic our country was facing a myriad of problems politically and economically. Economically before the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe had become an economic basket case. Our economy had become—according to reputable statistical data— over 80% informal. Here we are talking of around 90% unemployment rate. Because of this many households were depending on vending, that is buying and selling second hand clothes and other things to make ends meet. Inflation is another big problem. Prices are rising such that many people cannot afford to buy the basic necessities of life like bread and mealie-meal. The drought also compounded our problems because many households need food relief. I read from other sources that between 5 and 7 million people would need food assistance. If the figure is 7 million, it means almost half the population is in need of assistance. Unfortunately in some cases the distribution of food has been politicized. Food assistance is given to people who belong to the ruling party. If one is from the opposition they are denied food assistance.
What is also depressing is that there are reports in some media outlets that some financial aid has been diverted by the powers that be. The money is misappropriated for the benefit of the politically connected—especially the political elite. Politically we have had cases of some people being arrested—especially members of the opposition political party the MDC Alliance. About three weeks ago we had some of them (5) abducted and tortured for violating lockdown rules. The five were women.
My major take on this is that it has affected women and children more. They are more vulnerable than their male counterparts. So Covid-19 has brought to the fore these economic and political injustices. Women are the major victims. There are increased cases of abuse of women because of the lockdown. People who would normally stay apart for prolonged periods of time are now forced to stay together and it gives rise to cases of gender based violence. Very sad indeed.
I hope this will give you some idea of our situation in Zimbabwe.
God richly bless you.
From Davison Mukandatsama, Executive Secretary, African Baptist Churches in Zimbabwe