Sunday, December 21, 2008

African Churches Plead With AU to Intensify Pressure on Mugabe

WCC News

The AACC Assembly adopted a statement of concern on Thursday 11 December on the crisis in Zimbabwe, expressing displeasure that "President Mugabe is using power-sharing negotiations as a strategy for wasting time" while "acts of violence continue to be committed against those who do not support ZANU-PF", Mugabe's ruling party. The will of the Zimbabwe people as expressed in March 2008 elections has been thwarted, the Assembly said, and international leaders and churches "have failed to bring about an amicable solution".

Sharing the platform of the AACC's Maputo assembly with South African former President Thabo Mbeki on Friday 12 December, the World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia affirmed the world leader "in his very difficult task" of negotiating an end to the crisis in Zimbabwe. Mbeki has been entrusted with this responsibility by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Kobia noted that "Peacemaking requires patience and perseverance. It must be a shared responsibility, and churches are well situated to help."

In its statement, the AACC Assembly called on churches to confess their failure to address the issues adequately, asking Christians to join in prayer for Zimbabwe with a special emphasis on the Africa Day of Prayer and Fasting for Justice in Zimbabwe on 25 January 2009.

Churches were also requested to "take action for justice and peace in Zimbabwe through measures appropriate to their national contexts. Such activities might include advocacy visits to leaders of nations, regional structures (SADC, etc.) and the African Union; marches and demonstrations, particularly outside of Zimbabwean embassies and consulates; and collecting funds and material to provide humanitarian aid and address the cholera crisis."

The Assembly's most forceful recommendations were directed to the member states of the African Union, calling upon leaders of nations to "state clearly that the current Zimbabwean regime is illegitimate and to withdraw recognition of the Zimbabwean government" and to "intensify pressure on President Mugabe to relinquish control of the Zimbabwean government, involving international bodies (such as the International Criminal Court) where appropriate." The Assembly cautioned that "negotiation must never be allowed to replace legitimate democratic elections".

The statement also asked governments, international bodies and churches to "recognize people fleeing the economic, political and humanitarian crises in Zimbabwe as refugees, to offer them protection and hospitality and to treat them with respect and dignity" and to "support activists in Zimbabwe".

No comments: