2105-2-1-BISHOP BISMARKTOMORROW, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the continent in celebrating Africa Day. One of the groupings that bring together key apostolic voices of the church on the continent is the Council of African Apostles (CAA).

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The Sunday Mail Religion’s Fatima Bulla spoke to the chairman of the CAA, Bishop Tudor Bismark on issues that have seized Africa and their implications on the continent’s future. Below are Bishop Bismark’s thoughts in his own words:

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There are a couple of things I would want to tackle. First, on the political side you know we are calling for peace. We are speaking to these areas of unrest such as hotspots of Somalia, to groups such as Alshabaab to put down their arms and look for diplomatic solutions. The same with Boko Haram. It’s unfortunate that violence has to be answered by violence but we have been pushing for diplomatic solutions.

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So areas where there have been challenges like Lesotho or Mali, we have seen the President, who is the chairman of the AU, now signing peace accords. That’s the first thing we are pushing for-that is a peaceful Africa.

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The second thing is on the economic front, we are concerned that we have tens of thousands of African migrants risking their lives to cross the Meditarrenean Sea. It is a major concern.

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One of the things we are pushing against of course, is corruption.

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Governments and spiritual leaders have to take a firm stand on issues of corruption. And that we should allow the judicial systems to mete out punishment for corrupt individuals. I read in The Herald a day ago (Tuesday) that there is a $25 million dollars that has been pilfered at ZBC. There has to be prosecutions, people have to be brought to book. There has to be greater accountability and of course, transparency.

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Unfortunately, a lot of corruption in Zimbabwe is within government parastatals. Of course that’s the lion’s share of cases in the newspapers. You do have within the private sector people swindling here and there but the major areas of corruption in Africa are within government sectors.

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And we are appealing to governments to fix that because it does impede confidence within the economic sector, it impedes confidence for investors or people that are possible business partners especially if you have individuals that want to start business or invest. They stay away from corrupt nations.

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So what will happen is instead of potential partners doing business with Africans, they are going to go to the Middle East or they are going to go to emerging markets in the Far East. Not that there is no corruption there but it’s dealt with in a more significant way.

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The distribution of wealth is also an area of major concern, there is need to give the masses some access to opportunities so that they generate wealth.

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Then unemployment is ridiculously high in the SADC region. It is too high in the SADC region, throughout Africa but in the SADC region!

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So what has happened is now you have the informal sector that has emerged. It has to be organised. When you have a very vibrant, active informal sector, formal business is going to suffer so that adds to unemployment because individuals then have to put people off because they can’t compete. And then also again I keep on harping on this, there is need to reform the taxation systems because you have a handful of employed people and businesses paying tax on an already strained system. And they (government) don’t have alternatives. What are the alternatives for the government to generate money? The government is the highest employer of people and the lion share of the national budget is going towards government employees and its subsidiaries. So there has to be some reforms. As CAA, we are looking at appealing to governments to address those issues of distribution of wealth. In the social sector we are strongly opposed to acts of xenophobia in South Africa. We have written a statement on that but we have to look at reasons why people are displaced. We are looking for nations to grant people their human rights, justice and equitable rights so that people can have a future in their respective nations whether it is in Zimbabwe, Kenya or Eritrea. We have to answer as Zimbabweans

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why we have millions of Zimbabweans outside and not here. There are obviously challenges we have.

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And then we are calling on Africans to plough back into Africa. Not entirely finances, but it can be in terms of their skills. We lose so many children every year to foreign universities and a handful come back to serve our nations.

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On the spiritual side, we are calling for the unity of the continent on a more significant way. We are calling for unity amongst business persons on the continent for Africa to trade within itself and business people to develop strong networks. We are calling for unity among churches across the continent for ministries to work together.

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Throughout Africa on May 24, we have all members of CAA teaching and preaching the same. And it’s an initiative to work towards unifying our efforts. We are also reiterating our 20 year strategy for individuals, for families, companies and businesses, even the national vision for individual nations that people align to a set long term plan.

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There is a document entitled the Africa we want 2063. It’s a 50 year plan.

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So we are calling for people to unify around that kind of vision and it’s a very generic message.

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So this particular Africa Day, through the CAA, we are inspiring and encouraging as many churches as possible to show up in African ethnic wear. To be proud of our Africanism, proud of our roots, to follow our deep values and our cultures.

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So the message for Africa Day this year is that it’s Africa’s time, what are we doing about it? We know the different groups in the world that exist so since last year, we have been embarking on building bridges, at least I have been.

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We have been working on commonality of challenges and if we are saying the same thing, let’s align and build a strong force for the betterment of our respective nations.

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So in Zimbabwe we have the EFZ, we are members there, but we are sharing information and working across the board with members there so that CAA isn’t contradicting, but complementing its efforts.

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I was in Nigeria working with members of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, we are saying the same thing, we are not building an alternative movement, we are coming to under guard what already exists and add value.

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So in some cases, CAA becomes a tool within a national tool box. We are definitely using the platform to bring in the major voices within the nations to not just develop solutions, but work with those already there.

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We have been working via the phones and social media encouraging leaders to disseminate information within religious bodies that exist for the purposes of creating a greater sense of unity.

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On resource control, I think as leaders many of us are just beginning to discover the kind of financial and economic influence and power that we have. We had not realised it, so now we are moving towards organising it into effective goals and ideas, for example addressing the issue of housing.

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Also in terms of micro-loans, there is need to help people in the informal sector formalise their businesses.

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So we are now beginning to organise money and create opportunities for people within the respective ministries to create an economic sector that’s not exclusive to a church but can benefit a nation.

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Our theme for 2015 is “build”. I had a bit of a meeting in Nigeria with CAA executive leaders and what we are all sensing is that we are now entering into a season of God’s favour for the continent.

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A number of our key leaders in the CAA are turning 70 this year, about seven of them. So just based on that, we know that it’s a season of God’s favour coming.

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And so that’s what we have been praying for. But we are calling for God’s favour, God’s blessing and God’s grace, that’s what we are pulling for and we are about to see a release of corporate favour.

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Everybody who came into Solomon’s world received that corporate favour. In chapter 3 of Exodus, all of Israel, every woman, every man, every child walked in corporate favour.

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So we really believe that the season of corporate favour is coming for Zimbabwe. We really, really believe that.