The president of Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops’ conference has joined other Christian leaders in calling the departure of Robert Mugabe an “opportunity for the birth of a new nation”.

The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, which includes Bishop Michael Bhasera, conference president, and Fr Frederick Chiromba, its general secretary, appealed for an interim government to be formed to “oversee the smooth transition to free and fair elections”.

The Christian leaders said many Zimbabweans were “confused and anxious about what has transpired and continues to unfold in our nation”. But they said there was “no way we can go back to the political arrangements we had some days ago. We are in a new situation.

“While the changes have been rapid in the last few days, the real deterioration has been visible for everyone to see for a long time,” the Christian leaders said.

Last Saturday hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the capital, Harare, to celebrate the expected end of Mr Mugabe’s reign as one of Africa’s longest-serving heads of state. As the Catholic Herald went to press Mr Mugabe had refused to resign and was facing impeachment proceedings.

He has been widely blamed for Zimbabwe’s economic decline over the past two decades. Millions of economic refugees have left the country, most going to South Africa.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection