Govt blasts Zimbabwe Church Council for spurning Vaccine service restrictions

George Charamba

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba has blasted the head of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Kenneth Mutata, for being hypocritical by spurning the government decision on Wednesday to allow those who have been fully vaccinated to attend church services as he has been vaccinated.

Mutata is the secretary general of the ZCC as well as its umbrella organisation the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations which groups together the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa.

In a statement in response to the government’s decision to allow only those vaccinated to attend church services, ZHOCD said it will be difficult for the Church to deny people to receive the means of grace simply because they have not been vaccinated when access to this vaccination is restricted.

“The Churches cautiously appreciate the process of opening up of society, business, and public life after almost two years of restrictions because of COVID-19. Though welcome by the Churches, this staggered opening of Churches on the condition of being vaccinated raises both theological and practical challenges,” ZHOCD said.

“Theologically, the Church is an open and welcoming space for everyone with no restrictions. No one qualifies for Church service as it is a place of God’s grace. The Church will find it very difficult to turn people home because they do not have a vaccination certificate. However, would it be responsible to meet in an uncontrolled environment where possibilities of spreading the virus are high?…..

“Practically, less than 10 percent of the population has been vaccinated. There is a group of citizens that does not get vaccinated due to age or because they have not yet had a chance to be vaccinated. It will be difficult for the Church to deny people to receive the means of grace simply because they have not been vaccinated when access to this vaccination is restricted.”

ZHOCD said that the Ministry of Health and Child Care should provide the detailed protocol for reopening Churches clarifying all the grey areas such as how the licence affects those below the age of 18 who are not being vaccinated.

Singling out Mutata, Charamba said: “I know many churches have welcomed Govt decision on face-to-face fellowship, qualified by public health preconditions given. Izvi zvabambo vanonzi Dr Mutata vane mapolitical ambition hatizvitevedzeri zvedu.

“Instead of being spurred by this Govt decision to motivate parishioners to vaccinate for their own safety and for realisation of national public health goals, some elements who purport to speak for the Zimbabwean Church dare impugn that decision in the pharisaical name of democratising access to fellowship. What rank hypocrisy!!!

“At the onset of the National Vaccination Programme, Govt went out of its way to prioritise leaders of all church denominations so they would present example and leadership to their membership. The response was massive, including from Dr Mutata who is safely vaccinated as I tweet.

“No one ever imagined that this example and show by Government would be privatised by some in Church leadership is personal salvation and access to long life unshared by their followers. Sadly, this appears to have been the case.

“For how else is one to interpret Dr Mutata’s argument that parishioners risk being discriminated by Govt decision to allow only those vaccinated to attend church services, other than to get what he seeks to communicate, albeit inadvertently, while hiding behind national statistics?

“In essence, he is admitting to failing to provide leadership in the Church, but without accepting responsibility for the same!!! And selfishness too, something quite odd for a gentleman of the cloth.

“If vaccination was good for Christ’s disciple, what is it bad for the laity? And all this time that Govt disallowed fellowship on grounds of public health, what was the Reverend Gentleman doing?? Composing a counter-statement to Govt’s eventual decision in the spirit of reflexive opposition we associate with political actors??.”

Charamba said as a church-goer, he was aware of a denomination which now boasts that 90% pf its members have been vaccinated.

As of yesterday, 1.13 million Zimbabweans had been fully vaccinated. Nearly two million had received one dose.

“Zvaana vaMutata toti HAKUNA MATATA pachiSwahili!!! May the Good Lord Bless the Zimbabwean Church and those who lead it genuinely,” Charamba concluded.

Source: The Insider

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