Thursday, July 24, 2008

International Church Groups Call for Peace in Zimbabwe

H.E President Thabo Mbeki Republic of South Africa
President & First Secretary Robert Mugabe ZANU PF Party
President Morgan Tsvangirai Movement for Democratic Change
President Arthur Mutambara Movement for Democratic Change

Joint Global Ecumenical Leaders Statement on the Zimbabwe Political Parties Pact
We, the leaders of the World Council of Churches, World Student Christian Federation, World YWCA, World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Alliance of YMCAs wish to congratulate the leadership of the ZANU PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change on signing the Memorandum of Understanding that paves way for the beginning of negotiations towards a lasting resolution of the difficult crisis in Zimbabwe.
We also wish to commend the role, in bringing the parties together, played by the SADC Facilitator, HE President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and his team ; Dr Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission, the Secretary General of the United Nations and his Special Envoy, Ambassador Haile Menkarios.
We believe that the will of the people should be the fundamental basis on which to ground negotiations.
And we greet the beginning of this critical round of negotiations with fervent hope for a new beginning for all Zimbabweans, restoration of peace, prosperity, dignity and the rule of law.

Restatement of Principles and Values

Having walked this journey alongside the churches, civil society and people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain mindful of the principles below ;

Good Faith ; We pray for all the negotiators so that they are are guided by the best interests and deeper aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. We pray that the discussions will be held in complete good faith so that the final agreement becomes a foundation for a lasting and viable solution to the crisis in the country.
Continuing Violence and Human Rights Abuses; We are appalled by reports of continuing violence in many parts of the country, particularly in the rural areas. All forms of violence, harassment, intimidation and torture must cease immediately to provide an environment truly conducive for peaceful negotiations.
Humanitarian Situation; We are saddened that there has not been an official withdrawal of the order banning the field operations of humanitarian aid agencies and NGOs in Zimbabwe. The World Food Programme has recently warned that if these agencies are not allowed immediate access to the communities in need, 5.1 million will face starvation. We therefore call upon the Zimbabwean authorities to immediately and without conditions lift the ban and allow humanitarian aid agencies and NGOs access to the communities in need.
Rule of Law, Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing; We further urge the parties to remain committed to a genuine restoration of the rule of law that rejects impunity but allows true reconciliation and healing. Zimbabwe has witnessed horrific incidences of violence during and after the elections of March 29 and June 27. Many people have lost relatives and friends. Thousands have lost homes and other property. Wounds cut deep. We, together with them, look to you for an agreement that provides for a safe return of displaced people, proper remedies and justice for survivors and their families.
Inclusive Participation; We realise that the Memorandum of Understanding does not provide for the inclusion of civil society, churches, women and young people. None of the negotiating teams from the three parties includes a woman at a time when mothers and women of Zimbabwe continue to face the hardest part of the national challenge. This is most regrettable. We call on you to consider opening a place at the table for representatives of Zimbabwe civil society so that they also bring in the voice and aspirations of the grassroots communities with whom they continue to work closely.

Finally we would like to reaffirm the need to protect the intergrity of elections as the most legitimate and democratic way to express the sovereign will of the people not only in Zimbabwe but throughout Africa. We pray that the negotiations you have begun will help restore faith in the electoral process as a democratic and peaceful means through which the people of Africa can demand accountability from their leaders and contribute to the governance and development of their own societies.

Thank you and may God bless you

Issued by the following general secretaries:

The World Council of Churches
Reverend Dr Samuel KobiaTel : +41 22 791 6111

World Student Christian Federation
Reverend Michael WallaceTel : +41 22 791 6558

World Alliance of Reformed Churches
Reverend Dr Setri NyomiTel : +41 22 791 6505

World YWCA
Ms Nyaradzai GumbonzvandaTel : +41 22 929 6040

World Alliance of YMCAs
Dr Bartholomew ShahaTel : +41 22 849 5100

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