Church leaders in Zimbabwe have appealed for the government to listen to the "cries of citizens" and to address a range of concerns to "avoid total collapse of the state".

In a statement released last week, the church leaders - who included representatives of the Evanglical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Church Council and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference among others - said they were "concerned and alarmed" by events in the nation and saddened by what they said was a "political, social and economic meltdown, which has caused untold suffering of the masses".

They expressed concern over the "apparent disregard" of the nation's constitution by authorities through what they say is a "selective application of the law, failure to decisively deal with corruption, exclusion of citizens in determining their destiny and the politicization of people’s genuine complaints and pains" as well as "intra-party conflicts that are distracting Government from dealing with real economic and social issues that are affecting the country".

"We call upon our Government to listen to the cries of citizens whose cries and sufferings are loud and clear. There is need to act justly and mercifully on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged in our nation."

Alongside condemning the "brutality" of law enforcement agencies, they outline a range of issues which they say need to be "urgently addressed", including an unemployment rate of more than 80 per cent, the need to account for $US15 billion in diamond revenue reported missing by President Robert Mugabe, and a loss of trust in the government's ability to pay its workforce.

"(C)itizens have lost confidence and trust in our government," they write. "Therefore, there is urgent need for national dialogue between the government and different national stakeholders, towards finding a lasting solution than to ignore (sic), politicise people’s genuine grievances and label them as opposition or demonise and harass the church and her leaders."

In particular, the letter mentions the recent arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire - who was freed from prison when a court ruled police had violated his rights last week after earlier being arrested for organising a national strike - and the intimidation of other pastors.

"These grievances must be viewed as the early warning signs which indicate underlying and simmering tensions that will soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed," they wrote. "We call upon the government to immediately investigate and prosecute law enforcement agents that are alleged to have brutalized people. The government should also urgently act and address these genuine concerns of the citizens to avoid total collapse of the state."

http://efzimbabwe.org/downloads/Churches%20Statement%20on%20Zimbabwe%20Crisis.pdf