Zimbabwe’s political leadership at the highest level has called on the nation to pray for rains starting last Sunday to next Saturday. This is in light of dry and extremely hot weather conditions induced by what has been described as the worst global El Nino effect in 18 years.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko said President Mugabe had implored Zimbabweans to pray for relief, an acknowledgement that the drought we face, along with the rest of the Sadc region, cannot be mitigated by human ingenuity. There are already shortages of both food and water and livestock has started succumbing to the drought.
Media reports indicate that rains fell in the City of Bulawayo on Sunday afternoon where VP Mphoko had attended the first of the series of rain-prayers at the Family of God church, breaking a spell of searing temperatures hovering in the mid-30 degrees Celcius.
Overall, Zimbabweans have responded with a positive attitude to calls to pray for rains.
They appreciate fully the implications of a second consecutive drought following another poor cropping season last year.
In fact, most Christians in the country applauded President Mugabe, his party and Government for acknowledging the supremacy of God over our earthly fortunes, whether as individuals or as nations.
Yesterday there were again showers in some parts of the country, bringing relief from the scorching sun.
They also gave hope to farmers, some of whom are still engaged in land preparations.
It is not for us to question the efficacy of prayers. What we do, however, acknowledge is our people’s faith in God. That is why people have not stopped working on their farms in the absence of rains in the “regular” part of the summer season. They might still salvage something from the soil.
While science and logic have given us their explanations for the seasonal changes in rainfall patterns, telling us about climate change and the El Nino weather phenomenon, they have not been able to tell us when we should prepare land, when to plant and what we are going to harvest. In short, nature is daily exposing the limitations of human knowledge and that we are not completely in charge or control of the environment around us, hence humanity’s recourse to a force beyond us when we are in dire straits.
In calling on the nation to pray for rains, the political leadership in Zimbabwe is appealing to our sense of a collective destiny. Churches know no tribe, political affiliation, rich or poor, short or tall. The threat of drought is real for all of us. It is a call to each and all of us to become each others’ keepers in this grave hour of need.
As fate would have it, the rains this week came as the MDCs scoffed at President Mugabe’s appeal for prayers. They could not hide their Pharisaical, holier-than-thou attitude, saying Zanu-PF was not fit to appeal to the nation to pray for rains. They asserted they were the only God-fearing entities, suggesting their appeal would be more readily accepted by God, but they are happy to see Zimbabweans suffer.
It is sad that in the face of an emergency of potentially-catastrophic proportions, we have small-minded politicians trying to capitalise on people’s suffering. They think they can blame the imminent food shortages and lack of water on the land reform programme and that this should win them votes.
No doubt Zimbabweans are able to see them for who they truly are: agents of dark forces hoping to reap benefits from every national crisis, even natural occurrences like climate change and the El Nino phenomenon, both effects of global warming.
The current drought is forecast to affect a majority of countries in the Sadc region, including those still reluctant to embrace the politics of resource-nationalism.
South Africa, itself the regional economic powerhouse, whose land is still largely in the hands of MDC-loved whites, is expected to import 5 million tonnes of maize due to drought. So why can’t our political merchants of evil intentions realise the food shortages go beyond Zanu-PF policies? We leave that to the people of Zimbabwe to judge.
Meanwhile our appeal is that Zimbabweans continue the week long prayers for rains, and go even beyond. God will answer in His time, in His own way.