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- ▼ June 2007 (3)
Friday, June 29, 2007
By David Clarke
LONDON (Reuters) - South African Nobel peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu said on Wednesday Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe needed face-saving options for there to be a chance of him stepping aside.
Tutu said the replacement of Tony Blair by Gordon Brown as prime minister of Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, could help the situation but much depended on negotiations to resolve the crisis being mediated by South Africa.
"A change of cast might have an important bearing on how things develop," Tutu told Reuters in an interview.
"I would hope that there might just be a way of providing face savers that would enable people to exit without feeling that they had lost a great deal of personal stature," he said.
"We need to provide that for the sake of the people and it may be that (Britain's) new prime minister just might have a way of saying things that would be slightly more acceptable."
Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe have reached a low. Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence in 1980, has accused Britain of trying to overthrow him and he threatened on Wednesday to seize foreign companies.
Britain has criticised Mugabe for his crackdown on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and accused him of driving the southern African state to economic ruin.
Tutu, who has been an outspoken critic of human rights violations by Mugabe's government, was not specific about the kind of face savers that might work.
He said: "I think they have to go and speak with the actors but it is finding a way of letting him maybe step down in a way that still leaves him with some dignity and self respect."
While Western nations have called for a tough African response to end the crisis, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has plotted its own diplomatic course, calling for more dialogue and an end to Western sanctions.
"(South African) President (Thabo) Mbeki is the facilitator, the mediator, appointed by SADC and he's had some of (the Zimbabweans) come to Pretoria and they've had exchanges," said Tutu.
"I have been told on very good authority that I think the two sides set themselves June 30 as the deadline for something significant," he said.
"It's a delicate thing and you are constantly having to determine whether it is better to keep quiet for a while so that you don't muddy the waters.
"And so much hinges on how President Mugabe reacts and then you know that the fate of many, many, many hangs on how he operates. So I wouldn't want to jeopardise the whole thing. Let's wait."
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Zimbabwe (MNN/SVM) --
Three pastors were arrested in Masvingo in Zimbabwe by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) on Sunday, June 10, for distributing toys and candy to children.
Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya, Pastor Peter Bondai, and Pastor Mugondi were detained and questioned by state security agents.
According to Salem Voice Ministries, in a bizarre case highlighting deep levels of paranoia in government, the agents of the Central Intelligence Organization accused the pastors of distributing campaign material for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party.
Pastor Peter Bondai and Mugondi were released after they were interrogated for more than three hours, while Pastor Chimbuya was kidnapped and dumped along the Masvingo-Great Zimbabwe highway hours after his arrest.
"We are living in constant fear after the harassment at the hands of the CIO agents," Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya to SVIM news.
"They just came to us and picked us one after the other. They asked us about the material we were distributing to various church organizations," they reported.
"One of us was kidnapped and was only released after they had proved beyond doubt that the items we were distributing were in fact toys," They added.
The CIO agents also demanded that the pastors write down their sermons and present them to the secret agents before delivery.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa could not be reached for comment on the matter.
President Robert Mugabe last month warned church leaders to steer clear of politics after Catholic bishops denounced the Zimbabwean government over its human rights record.
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Sunday, June 17, 2007
Evangelical Lutheran Church leader, visiting local synod: Nation at climax of its woes.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
By Renée K. Gadoua
The presiding bishop of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in heads home today after renewing a five-year agreement for a relationship with the local Evangelical Lutheran church. Zimbabwe
The church's local synod began its companion partnership with the church in
in 1990. Since then, several delegations from each community have visited their partner synod. Bishop Marie Jerge, of the church's Upstate synod, was part of a local delegation that visited Zimbabwe in 2003. Zimbabwe
The renewal of the agreement took place during the local denomination's annual meeting June 3 to 5 in
Rochester, attended by Bishop Naison Shava, from . Zimbabwe
"We want to create those connections that already exist in the world but we may not be aware of," Jerge said.
The local synod includes about 80,000 people in 198 churches from
Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County to the Canadian border and from the Massachusetts border to Lake Erie.
Shava said the international community needs to understand
's history to understand its current conditions. Zimbabwe
The leader of
is President Robert Mugabe, 83, who became the country's first black leader in 1980. Since then, the southern African nation has devolved into a country with high inflation, food and fuel shortages, and accusations of human rights abuses. Zimbabwe
Despite international criticism of Mugabe's leadership, Shava is optimistic about
Here are excerpts from an interview Tuesday with The Post-Standard.
What's happening in
We have gone through a lot of stages of political conflicts and, sometimes, some violence. We have learned through the process. We can say Zimbabweans are a peace-loving community who have learned fighting does not benefit anyone.
How's the economy?
We had a problem with the World Bank, and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) withdrew support, making it very difficult. We had a problem servicing our debt with the IMF. There is no confidence in the economy. Inflation continues to fly high.
How do economic conditions affect the people?
The level of income does not grow the same way (as inflation). If you are eating a loaf of bread a day you have to reduce to half a loaf because you cannot afford it.
Even the people who are working are considered poor. People must rely on subsidies from their relatives or friends outside the country.
How does the land redistribution following independence play into the conditions?
It has caused a straining of international relations. Eighty percent of the land in
is good land and is occupied by 20 percent who happen to be mainly the white community. Eighty percent of the people occupy 20 percent of the land. Zimbabwe
This was the result of colonization. It has not been addressed since independence.
Is Mugabe to blame for these problems?
He may have had his errors. There are also areas where he has made it well for the country.
The first 10 or 15 years of his leadership,
's economy was growing. Then he was behaving, in the eyes of the international world, in a funny way. Zimbabwe
He is a person who is educated. Because of his frankness, he has created more problems for himself.
What do church leaders think of him?
We are in dialogue with him. Confrontation is not an option.
Didn't Roman Catholic bishops in
call for Mugabe to step down? Zimbabwe
There are individual Catholic bishops who would like to play the hero. Their criticism, demonizing Mugabe, does not help.
It would not make sense to force him out of office. It would just create anarchy.
be like in five years? Zimbabwe
We're at the climax of our problems. In the next two years, we should be able to see change. We don't know what the solutions are, but, as a church, we have to have hope.
Renee K. Gadoua can be reached at email@example.com or 470-2203.