Southern Africa Crisis Management Agency (SACMA) and Christian Action Trust Zimbabwe (CAT-Zim) have come together to launch a grassroots anchored peace initiative ahead Zimbabwe’s watershed elections this year.

To lay the groundwork, the organisations are training church pastors and spiritual leaders in electoral processes and monitoring of political violence across the country. They will also be responsible for escalating the incidences with relevant authorities, making follow-ups on incidents reported. A total of 200 church leaders have so far been trained to date. On completion the programme is expected to reach 5,000 church leaders across Zimbabwe.

“We are part of a broader group of organisations affiliated to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches who have embarked on various strategies to minimise violence and torture as part of our normal pastoral work in Zimbabwe. This program seeks to compliment the efforts already underway by three Zimbabwe main church organisations, the Catholic Bishops Conference, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches to address Zimbabwe’s perennial legacy of violence before, during and after elections” said Reverend Kadenge, chairman of CAT-Zim.

Last month the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace launched a program aimed at bringing peace in the country and urged churches to pursue peace initiatives in view of the pending elections.

Speaking after the pastors training in Mutare on Monday the 3rd of June, SACMA Zimbabwe Coordinator Mr Tichanzii Gandanga said:

“SACMA in partnership with CAT-Zim is training pastors in electoral processes and monitoring of political violence, equipping them with various skills like terrain scanning, event diarising, incident recording as well as peace building. The initiative aims to finally set up a Zimbabwean own version of Ushahidi where incidences of violence are fed onto an online database in real time with church leaders as Community focal persons in scanning, detecting, verifying and feeding our call centre”

The Mutare workshop was attended by over 40 pastors from different denominations.

When asked to comment about the training Reverend Chindewere of Kingdom Faith Ministries Church said,

“As Pastors our job is to shepherd all people and to bring and maintain peace; as such this training will go a long way in helping to make the church a safety sanctuary to all peoples without regard to political affiliations.”