An analytical study of the role of Methodist Church in Zimbabwe in reconciliation and healing within the Zimbabwean context of political conflict and violence from 1979 to 2013.
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This study analyses how the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) has fostered reconciliation and healing within the Zimbabwean context of political conflict and violence from 1979-2013. It documents and discusses reconciliation and healing processes regarding how the church employed strategies, identified perpetrators and victims who needed reconciliation and healing, as well as worked with civil society organisations in the peace-building process. It also documents how the church conceptualises reconciliation from a social sciences perspective. The study adopted a sequential explanatory mixed-method for its design and worked with a sample size of 240 participants from eight districts of the MCZ within Zimbabwe. Questionnaires and interview schedules were the main source of primary data collection tools. Secondary data were sourced from text books, journals, the Internet, unpublished theses, MCZ Connexional Archives (minutes of conferences) in which conference is the governing board of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe as defined in its constitution as in MCZ (2007) and National Archives of Zimbabwe (newspapers). The quantitative data were analysed by means of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) programme while content and thematic analysis was used with qualitative data. The thesis was guided by the theoretical framework of conflict transformation based on Lederach’s peace-building theory. Major findings included that MCZ had actively participated in the peace-building process through multiple initiatives with perpetrators and victims of violence who needed reconciliation and healing. Various civil society organisations worked with the church towards peace-building but there was little support from the government. Major challenges that affected effective participation were the enforcement of draconian laws by the government such as Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act, Broadcast Services Act and Non-Governmental Organisations Act. There was a lack of political will, inadequate funding, lack of public counselling centres, fear and lack of social justice. Hypothetically, the study concluded that the church did not participate as effectively as may have been possible in the reconciliation and healing processes. The study has therefore put forth a number of the recommendations for the church under study as well as for future researchers.