Parliament on Monday quizzed some of the country’s top church leaders on rape and other crimes being committed under the guise of Christianity.
Edward Ndete of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Reverend Lindani Dube of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Council of Churches general secretary Solomon Zwana appeared before the Senate Thematic Committee on Gender and Development.
The three said they are also concerned by unruly elements using the name of the church to commit heinous crimes, including rape.
They urged the authorities to fully investigate and punish perpetrators when such reports reach them.
The three church leaders were invited to parliament to speak on what the church in Zimbabwe is doing to combat domestic violence and rape in churches.
Ndete, who is the Catholic Church’s parliamentary liaison officer, told the Senate Thematic Committee that the church will not harbor criminals, promising to cooperate with the authorities once the need arose.
Responding to questions on the church’s position regarding cases of rape and abuse of women that have been occurring in some churches, Dube said the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe is advocating stiffer penalties for culprits.
He said this why the three organizations, representing over 450 churches, issued a statement condemning activities in the RMG Independent Church, whose leader Robert Gumbura was recently jailed for 40 years for raping church members.
The three further said they are concerned by the general moral decay in the country, adding they are exploring ways of turning the situation around.
Zwana said the church is ‘extremely worried’ about some people whom he said are using the church to extort and exploit people.
He said some church leaders are taking advantage of the fact that many in the country are desperate for spiritual and economic solutions hence they are finding it difficult to easily exploit them.
The church leaders said most cases of abuses occurred in indigenous churches, adding they are engaging church leaders in this community to stop the evil practice of raping or abusing women under the guise of religion.
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe leader, Johannes Ndanga, said his organization is equally concerned and will not hesitate to call the police where crimes would have been committed.
He said his organization is doing all it can to provide security to congregants and ensure that the image of the church is not tainted by criminals masquerading as church leaders.