From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Zimbabwe Church Leaders meet with President Robert Mugabe

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Wed, 19 Dec 2001 09:42:21 -0800

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The Zimbabwe Council of Churches Heads of Denominations have condemned
pre-campaigning violence and the language, which is being used by some 
leaders in the country, which they allege incites violence.

Addressing their concerns to the President after 3years of last meeting the
president, the Heads of Denominations said they were concerned about the
continuing increase in violence in Zimbabwe. They said violence, which is being
experienced in the country, is affecting members of the church.

The Anglican Bishop Sebastian Bakare, who was leading the 11 member ZCC
delegation said," We are concerned about the loss of life and destruction of
property occurring on regular basis and have specific incidents within our own

The Heads of Denominations went on to say they were concerned  and also being
disturbed by the spiraling  violence which is currently prevailing in the
country. Also discussed was the land issue as well as press freedom. They told
the President that, the people of this land do not want to experience war again
and references to a 'Third Chimurenga' are cause for concern.

The president said the use of the phrase 'Third Chimurenga' was not a
declaration of war but was a metaphor "expressing the depth of our feelings in
respect of land reform as well as gearing our people to resist outside

In responce to the issue of violence the President said his government was also
concerned about this issue and that all precautions were being taken to ensure
that law is enforced. He acknowledged that it was really the duty of the
government and the police force to protect the public.

The President however went on to encourage the Heads of Denominations to use
their pulpit to promote peace rather than incite violence. He said it was also
the duty of the Church to help in ensuring that there is peace in the country.
He hoped that the forthcoming elections would be free, fair and peaceful.

On the issue of land the Heads of denominations reaffirmed their support on the
issue of land. They said they want this issue to be solved once and for all.

Reverend Murombedzi Kuchera who was also among the delegation said the
President did not avoid any of the questions they asked and he was glad that as
Churches they have shared their concerns with the President. Mr. Densen
Mafinyani, General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches commended the
openness of the meeting and  was hopeful that this was just a beginning of many
meetings to come with the President. "We have been assured of an open door by
the government and I am sure there will be more dialogue between the Church and
the government", he said.

WCC and All Africa Conference of Churches to Observe Zimbabwe Presidential

The President of Zimbabwe has said he had no objections to the Church sending
in observers for the forthcoming presidential elections but emphasized that
Europeans were not welcome.

Addressing the 11 member delegation of Zimbabwe Council of Churches Heads of
Denominations at the State House he said, " We have never supervised Europe's
elections, why should they want to supervise ours, African elections are 
business," he said.

The Church leaders also requested that the local church be allowed to monitor
the election. The president also agreed that the local church will monitor the
elections but first they have to be accredited by the Electoral Supervisory
Commission whilst the World Council of Churches and the All Africa 
Conference of
Churches will be allowed to observe the poll. The President however said the
observers will be vetted first.

This comes in after some reports a few months ago by the Minister of Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs in Zimbabwe, Mr. Patrick Chinamasa when he said according
to the constitution of Zimbabwe only the Electoral Supervisory Commission is
allowed to monitor elections. The Minister had also said they were  not 
any foreign observers nor monitors to the elections.

The Church leaders last met the President in 1998 when they had a meeting on
the WCC Assembly, which took place later during that year. Meanwhile it has 
stated that the Presidential elections will take place in March 2002 but the
actual dates are yet to be released. 

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