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Zimbabwe: Anglican Bishops Support Mugabe
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2007

By Caesar Zvayi
The Herald (Harare)

THE Anglican Church Province of Central Africa has added its voice to the growing condemnation of the illegal Western sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and called for their scrapping, urging Britain to honour its obligations to fund land reforms in the country.

In their Pastoral letter issued at the end of their Episcopal Synod in Harare last week, the 14 bishops and one canon, among them the head of the Province of Central Africa, the Most Rev Bernard Amos Malango, acknowledged that the economic situation in Zimbabwe stemmed from illegal sanctions.

"We, the bishops, are concerned and pained at the distressing occurrences that have been taking place in Zimbabwe; the deteriorating economy has rendered the ordinary Zimba-bwean unable to make ends meet.

"This, we note, has been exacerbated by the economic sanctions imposed by the Western countries, these so-called targeted sanctions (presumably) aimed at the leadership of the country have affected the poor Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt of the sanctions ...

"We, therefore, call upon the Western countries to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, we further call upon the British government to honour its obligation of paying compensation to the white farmers."

The Anglican Bishop's pastoral letter exposes the patently political nature of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop's Conference that released its own letter ahead of the Easter holidays, accusing President Mugabe and the Government of corrupt governance and human rights abuses.

The Catholic Bishops, led by the head of the Bulawayo Diocese -- Archbishop Pius Ncube -- and two of his colleagues from South Africa, Archbishop Buti Tlagale and Bishop Kevin Dowling, held an opposition rally on April 12 under the auspices of the Save Zimbabwe Convention and pledged to facilitate illegal regime change in the country.

Turning to the recent orgies of violence, the Anglican Bishops urged the Government to provide a framework for peace by creating an environment conducive for dialogue.

"As bishops, we denounce all forms of violence perpetrated by whatever source as a means of resolving conflict as this is a degradation of those created in the image of God."

Last month, MDC factions embarked on orgies of violence disguised as a "defiance campaign," through which they sought to depose the Government in the streets. When their attempts were thwarted, they launched terrorist activities that saw them assault police officers, burn private and public property and carry out 11 reported petrol bombings on police stations and private property.

The statement by the Anglican Bishops was in line with the theme of the 27th Independence Anniversary Celebrations, "Uniting Against Sanctions," and the resolution on Zimbabwe at the extra-ordinary summit of Sadc heads of state and government at the end of March in Tanzania.

At the summit, Sadc leaders reaffirmed their support and solidarity for the people and Government of Zimbabwe, called for the lifting of the illegal sanctions, recognised the legitimacy of the electoral system and urged Britain to honour its obligations to fund land reforms in Zimbabwe.

They also pledged a rescue package to mitigate the effects of the sanctions and tasked South African president Thabo Mbeki to facilitate dialogue between the Government and the opposition.

Apart from Archbishop Malango, other bishops who signed the Pastoral Letter dated April 12 2007 were Right Revs: Christopher J. Boyle (Northern Malawi), Albert Chama (Northern Zambia), Elson Jakazi (Manicaland), Derek Kamukwamba (Central Zambia), Nolbert Kunonga (Harare), William Muchombo (Eastern Zambia), Ishmael Mukuwanda (Central Zimbabwe), Robert Mumbi (Luapula) Trevor Mwamba (Botswana), David Njovu (Lusaka), Wilson Sitshebo (Matabeleland), Godfrey Tawonezvi (Masvingo), James Tengatenga (Southern Malawi), and Rev. Canon Michael Mkoko, Vicar General of the Diocese of Lake Malawi.

The Anglican Bishop's pastoral letter left egg on the face of the head of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Willams who, last month, tried to pressure his bishops, among them Dr Kunonga, to join the bandwagon of condemning the Government for alleged human rights excesses.

Dr Williams went to the extent of holding a one-on-one meeting with Bishop Kunonga on the sidelines of the Anglican Conference on Tackling Poverty held in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he urged him to drop his "soft stance" towards the Government.

In the wake of the meeting, Dr Williams was criticised by church members who said Bishop Kunonga, who is well-known for his progressive sentiment, should not be pressured into telling falsehoods about his country.


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