Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, All men and women of Zimbabwe [1] We, the Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe, write to you as our nation prepares for elections on 30th July 2018, a moment in our history that could prove to be pivotal. The dramatic events of last November 2017 seemed to many Zimbabweans to promise a new chapter of that history and were greeted by most with immediate and spontaneous rejoicing. Although the appearance of armed men and vehicles on our streets was alarming, people were quickly reassured and many came out onto the streets in support in a joyfully inclusive celebration. There were arrests by the military, reports of some beatings, and rumours of looting and even of loss of life, though comparatively little, thank God. The transition to a civilian administration was managed effectively by the military, and a new president duly sworn in to general enthusiasm in Zimbabwe and abroad. A great and tangible sense of relief prevailed, a release from fear, and hope for the future: our politicians, too, were possessed by a new spirit of cooperation. In all this we have much to thank God for. [2] In the six months since those events, we have seen many reasons for hope. The Government and its President have created new space for political activity, setting a new tone of freedom of speech, and promising free, fair, credible and undisputed elections under reformed electoral processes and institutions with access for international observers. Government Ministers and Ministries now have targets to which they are accountable. The anticorruption rhetoric is now accompanied by legal action against some highprofile figures, and parliamentary committees have begun to use their teeth. The President is energetically seeking the foreign investment that he sees as essential to “get the economy working again”. At the same time, however, other voices have raised concerns about the unconstitutional mode of these changes, and in particular the initial and continuing role of the military with the risks to the freedom of our political processes that this might carry for the future. Sometimes it has seemed that steps are taken against only some of those generally taken to be corrupt and not others, some of whom have even been given Government responsibilities. 1

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