25 March 2019

Zimbabwe: Religious Groups Join Hands in National Mourning

Yesterday local religious groups in their broad totality joined hands as they commemorated the final day of President Mnangagwa's declaration of two days of national mourning following the devastating Cyclone Idai that ravaged Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique leaving a combined more than 800 citizens dead and thousands others displaced.

Christians, Muslims and traditionalists joined hands in mourning.

In separate interviews yesterday, resident churches said they are sending off their prayers and compassion to those who have been affected.

The Salvation Army public relations secretary Captain Victor Mafukidze said the church has joined the nation in mourning the victims of Cyclone Idai.

"We have a church in Ngangu, Chimanimani which is on a higher location and has been accommodating people since the disaster happened. Our husband and wife pastors, Lieutenant Garnet and Eunice Muringai, have buried 90 bodies. Today's services in all our churches were dedicated to mourning our dear departed and praying for the nation to heal.

"The divisional commander of Manicaland, Major Absalom Makanga is coordinating with Government departments who are making an alternative road to get to the most affected areas.

"The Salvation Army international church has so far availed USD$25 000 to buy food items. We are also expecting drugs from our partners outside Zimbabwe," he said.

The Council of Apostolic Churches of Zimbabwe observed prayer sessions.

Secretary-general, Bishop Albert Sekeya said they had committed the two days to prayer in conformity with a call by President Mnangagwa.

Father Kennedy Muguti from the Roman Catholic Church cathedral in Harare said the church offered counselling services to the victims.

"On Saturday we spent the whole day at Dominican Convert School counselling children from St Charles Lwanga and their parents. So far, we have sent three trucks to Chimanimani and we still collecting donations," he said.

Father Taurai Kachembere of St Mary and All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Harare said:

"We have services everyday and we have been observing a moment of silence and pray for the victims. Our trucks will leave tomorrow to deliver the donations," he said.

Reverend Chitsiga of the Reformed Church of Zimbabwe said:

"As a church our prayers and thoughts are with our fellow Zimbabweans who are faced with this situation of pain. We encourage everyone to assist spiritually or physically," said Rev Chitsiga.

The Universal Church Bishop Justice said their followers across the country would donate kitchen utensils.

"We are donating buckets, pots, plates and sanitary wear. We are also working with Star FM," he said.

Mashonaland Central provincial administrator Mr Cosmos Chiringa thanked President Mnangagwa for demonstrating ubuntu and togetherness in cutting short his trip to the United Arab Emirates and declaring two days of mourning.

He added that churches in the province were praying for the bereaved families, the missing and injured in Chipinge, Chimanimani during the two days of mourning.

Headman Tendai Chiveso called on traditional leaders to hold consultations so as to get to the bottom of the calamity that befell the country.

In Masvingo churches and traditional chiefs marked the days by encouraging the public to donate materially and financially towards the disaster.

National coordinator of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe Bishop Lyphet Matenda of Zion Christian Church Kumuka Kuvakafa said various churches held prayers in all the seven districts across Masvingo.

Bishop Matenda said they were mobilising financial and material resources that will be given to victims in disaster-hit areas.

Masvingo provincial Chiefs' Assembly chair Chief Chitanga (Mr Feleni Chauke) said they were also mobilising aid for the victims.

Chief Chitanga thanked President Mnangagwa for declaring two days of mourning saying the response from Zimbabweans towards the disaster was overwhelming.

Chief Chitanga said the national chiefs' assembly leadership will soon visit some of the disaster-hit areas in Manicaland and Masvingo.

In Manicaland churches from various religious backgrounds took time to pray for the victims of Cyclone Idai.

"My family and I spent the weekend praying for those who died in Chimanimani. We did not forget those who survived because their lives will never be the same," said Mr Peter Hove from Greenside.

Various churches in Mashonaland West province dedicated yesterday's services to commemorate the lives of people who died due to Cyclone Idai-induced flooding and rockfalls in Manicaland province.

Others observed a minute of silence while others mobilised assistance to be taken to the affected areas.

At Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, Mzari branch Rev Goodwell Khosa led prayers for the victims and strength to relatives and survivors. The streets of Marondera town were quiet and calm as the majority of the people went to their different denominations, where they joined the nation in praying for the Cyclone Idai victims.

Mashonaland East Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) church leader Pastor Stanley Nyamande said various churches in the province dedicated an hour to honour those who perished.

"As Mashonaland East province, all our AFM churches prayed for the souls of those who perished so that they may rest in peace."

Reverend Daryl Mutari of Methodist in Zimbabwe said they dedicated three sessions of prayer to the cyclone victims and donated goods to those who survived.

The Muslim community also joined the nation in mourning the victims and their families.

Mr Jimmy Jalifu a member of the Mosque in Marondera said they stood in solidarity with all those who were affected.

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