A group of churches in Zimbabwe has joined hands and launched a massive campaign to galvanise Christians to vote ahead of the make or break 2018 general elections.

The campaign which was held recently at the Zimbabwe Council of Churches headquarters in Harare, the  consortium of churches said, will put to rest the culture of violence, corruption and incompetence.

Comprising Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Divine Destiny, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Christian Action Trust Zimbabwe, Prayer Network Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Pastors’ Fellowship and Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe, the churches said they will mobilise the entire Christian community to integrate messages of peace in weekly church services, youth and women’s services.

The churches said they will ensure the next elections avoided the kind of violent turmoil that marred the 2008 polls.

Then, 200 supporters of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC were allegedly killed by Zanu PF supporters.

The church consortium pledged to “mobilise the Christian community to report any acts of politically-motivated violence.”

“The church will engage with all political actors and players to ensure that there is peace. We will encourage the church to register and to vote for candidates of principle and integrity and speak out boldly and openly about electoral processes in Zimbabwe,” the communiqué said.

The churches called upon all political parties and candidates to “work towards promoting free, fair and peaceful elections, to promote peace amongst their followers and condone any acts of violence, to desist from creating fear through intimidation and manipulation of communities and to field candidates that uphold principles and values of integrity, transparency, honesty and respect for the Constitution.”

This disparate group, traditionally seen as lacking clout, has been propelled into political activism by President Robert Mugabe’s controversial economic stewardship that has wrecked the economy, mainly healthcare and social welfare, according to clergy members, activists and academics. A key test will be how well it will be able to translate its mobilisation into votes in the 2018 elections.

“We, as shepherds will uphold our biblical values and role in being the salt and light to our community; uphold our prophetic role to speak truth to power and to hold power to account and to mobilise the Christian community in urban and rural communities to effectively participate and work towards peaceful, free, transparent and fair electoral processes,” the churches said in their communiqué.

Although they get little attention from candidates, Christian voters are likely to be fundamental to any victories in the key 2018 election, with evangelicals seemingly more enthusiastic than the general population about the crucial polls.