Acting Anglican Bishop Sebastian Bakare of Harare, Zimbabwe, said Wednesday that Zimbabweans should use next month's national elections to express themselves on the state of the nation, wracked by hyperinflation and a permanent political crisis.
Bakare came out of retirement at the request of the Anglican hierarchy in Southern Africa to take charge of the Harare archdiocese following the dismissal of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, his predecessor in the post. But Kunonga has refused to give up his offices and with state backing his followers have occupied the Anglican cathedral.
Bakare recently received a human rights award for promoting justice and peace in Zimbabwe. It was presented at a prayer meeting hosted by the Christian Alliance, a civic group, and attended by eminent U.S. civil rights activist Elbert Ransom.
Bakare says the government has interfered in church affairs by backing Kunonga, but says this should not deter it from taking a leading role in the upcoming elections.
In an interview with reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, Bakare said the harsh conditions Zimbabweans now face should motivate them to go to the polls and vote responsibly.On the turmoil in his church, Bakare says the ruling ZANU-PF party is using Kunonga to seek a hold on the Anglican flock.