Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops say 'it's a sin not to vote,' urge people to eject ruling party

(File photo: L'Osservatore Romano.)Zimbabwe's Catholic Bishops with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome. (file) - L'Osservatore Romano.

A pastoral letter from the Roman Catholic Church bishops has urged all Zimbabweans, especially young people, to register and vote in their numbers in the upcoming 2018 polls, seen as a watershed election.

Reading a letter on behalf of the bishops to congregants after a church service at St. James Catholic church in Emerald Hill, Harare on Aug. 20, Father Rungano Muchineripi said it is a sin not to vote, AllAfrica.com reported

"Men and women of God are getting tired of praying for issues to do with politics and the suffering of people due to bad governance, so it is high time Christians put their efforts together in registering to vote, choosing a people oriented government which is not evil.

"It is your responsibility to choose a government of your choice that gives you rights. People have a constitutional right to vote and it is a sin not to vote," Rungano said.

A staunch critic of the ruling Zanu-PF party, which ruled uninterrupted since independence in 1980, Rungano said that parents should make sure that children who are 17 years old and will be 18 next year are registered too as voters.

He implored Christians who constitute more than 85 percent of the country's population to make sure they choose a government that protects social and health services because the levels of suffering have become deplorable.

Zimbabwe's 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe led his country to independence from Britain at a time when Zimbabwe was an agriculturally prosperous nation.

His policy of mass evections of white farmers from their land and doling seized farms out to party members led starvation in the country and millions of people fleeing, mostly to neighboring South Africa.

"Youths, it is your time now to change the face of Zimbabwe politically. Do not let the old leaders (madhara aya) continue making depraved decisions for you," said Rungano.

"Take the stance and challenge them through the ballot. These leaders have had their lives and now, it is high time to choose a better future for yourselves," he noted.

Father Rungano emphasized that Zimbabweans should be educated on the importance of voting and protecting that vote.

"Zimbabweans have been reduced to paupers by an irresponsible government that is corrupt and evil. There should be massive voter education campaigns now."

Father Rungano and Bishop Ancelimo Magaya of the Zimbabwe Devine Destiny Church have openly criticized the ruling Zanu-PF party for failure to respect the rule of law as well as failure to govern the country.

Bishop Magaya, a few months ago, introduced the 'Christian vote campaign' and said the church would determine the 2018 election winner.

Police quizzed him over the campaign.

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