Call for prayer ahead of Zimbabwe elections
Church leaders in Zimbabwe are asking for prayer ahead of elections taking place at the end of the month.
The Zimbabwean Council of Churches (ZCC) is asking Christians around the world to pray that the elections on July 31 will not be marred by the kind of violence seen around the 2008 elections.
In an open letter, the ZCC said it hoped that people who had suffered as a result of the previous violence "will still see the value of voting".
The council has been working to instil confidence in Zimbabweans "living in fear because of memories of the last elections".
"Men and women of faith should play a positive role in maintaining sanity in all political processes. We must avoid bloodshed, abductions and other forms of violence that characterised the June 2008 elections," the letter read.
The ZCC goes to on voice concerns about attempts to divide churches for political gain, with some faith leaders reportedly being forced to attend political meetings.
"We call on the entire Church in the region and the world to pray for peace, to be prophetic and exercise its pastoral responsibility and solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe," it said.
"When the time comes, let us pray first, and then go to the polls, hoping and trusting God to use that process to choose the next generation of leaders and government.
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"Zimbabwe needs God fearing and peace-loving leaders: not corrupt and evil rulers."
The ZCC is a partner organisation of Christian Aid and is being supported by the development agency in its peace work across Zimbabwe.
Christian Aid's Country Manager for Zimbabwe, Miriam Machaya, said Zimbabweans wanted a "free, fair and credible" election.
However, she said there was a "growing sense of worry and trepidation" as a result of the "poor management" of previous elections. This includes the "shambolic" special vote that took place earlier in the month for those who are on election duties on July 31.
"Thousands of potential voters, especially young people in the cities, have been disfranchised through failure to register as voters. This has created a mass of discontented young people," she said.
"A reasonably free, conclusive vote is now in doubt with an increased possibility of another disputed poll. Christian Aid is therefore appealing for your thoughts and prayers for a peaceful, credible and fair election in Zimbabwe."