The Government is indebted to the Church for the role the institution plays in providing education and health services to all citizens, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.
Provision of these crucial services, said VP Chiwenga, dovetailed with Government’s aspirations to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income society by 2030.
He was speaking at St Patrick’s Gokomere Mission in Masvingo yesterday during the ordination of Right Reverend Bishop Raymond Tapiwa Mupandasekwa as the second bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Masvingo.
The ceremony was witnessed by hundreds of the church’s faithful and bishops from other dioceses around Zimbabwe.
The Vice President said churches such as the Roman Catholic Church were key partners in Government’s drive to engender development that leaves no one and no place behind.
“Government applauds this contribution (of giving access to education and health services to the people) as it is in sync with our thrust to improve the quality of life of our people.
“Government appreciates the role played by the Church in education and health,” said the Vice President.
He, however, challenged the church to think outside the box and devise initiatives to generate income to maintain schools, vocational training centres and health institutions under their purview.
“While Government continues to give grants and subsidies to church institutions, you also have to come up with initiatives that help generate incomes that you will use to further develop the diocesan institutions,” he added.
The Government was also grateful to the church for its role in moulding morally upright citizens, said the Vice President.
He applauded Bishop Mupandasekwa for spearheading the transformation of educational and health institutions under the church in Chinhoyi, where he was stationed before his latest transfer.
Vice President Chiwenga challenged Bishop Mupandasekwa to continue looking after church institutions under the Masvingo Diocese, which he said was geographically the biggest in Zimbabwe.
The diocese comprises 20 missions; nine parishes; 19 secondary schools; 22 primary schools; five vocational training centres (two of which are operational); four mission hospitals and five clinics.
The diocese is also home to the only Catholic-owned primary school teachers’ training institution, Bondolfi College.
The Vice President also challenged Bishop Mupandasekwa to make sure the mothballed vocational training centres under the Masvingo Diocese were reopened.
As a Catholic himself, the Vice President said he was aware of the spiritual void occasioned by the vacant post of Masvingo Diocese bishop, saying the installation of Bishop Mupandasekwa would bring relief to the faithful in Masvingo province.
Archbishop Robert Ndlovu was the acting bishop of the Masvingo Diocese before yesterday’s installation of Bishop Mupandasekwa. The diocese had been left without a shepherd following the resignation of Bishop Michael Bhasera as head of the diocese last year.
In his speech, Archbishop Ndlovu congratulated Bishop Mupandasekwa, saying he was confident that he will be equal to the task at hand.
He said he will always cherish the good memories over the time he was acting head of the diocese.
Bishop Mupandasekwa thanked all Catholics for the support they continued to render him and pledged to work to the best of his ability to minister God’s word.