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on the National Peace Convention (NPC)
Crisis in Zimbabwe
December 14, 2002
Zimbabweans have had
enough of violence, agreed church leaders and civil society actors gathered
from across the country at a National Peace Convention in Bulawayo. The
group met from 13-14 December, 2002, to develop an action-oriented, non-partisan
response to Zimbabwe’s growing crises and spiralling violence.
Church leaders resoundingly
agreed to drive the peace process in their congregations, and civil society
leaders committed to immediate responses to address the growing violence
and intolerance in Zimbabwe.
The gathering was
attended by over 300 people, including 8 bishops from a variety of denominations
such as Catholic, Anglican, Brethren in Christ and Evangelical churches.
Over 70 pastors also attended. In addition, delegates from over 50 civil
society organisations (including women’s, youth, labour and municipal
representatives) participated in the convention.
The gathering opened
up dialogue across denominational divides and outlined practical steps
designed to address specific issues through a national Solidarity for
Peace Accord. The document is a framework for peace building in Zimbabwe,
and sets out a code of conduct as well as procedures and mechanisms designed
to mitigate violence.
Speaking with a united
voice, church leaders and civil society actors identified the agenda of
peace as a rallying point on which to win the struggle for democracy,
eradicate violence, intolerance and polarisation, and allow for coexistence.
"We commit ourselves
to working to achieve stability and to consolidating the peace process
by the introduction of reconstruction actions aimed at addressing the
worst effects of violence at a local level," reads part of the national
Solidarity for Peace Accord.
Discussion at the
Convention also focused on the methodology and time frame required to
establish a process of truth, justice and reconciliation in Zimbabwe.
Participants also raised the issue of regional solidarity and what Zimbabweans
can do to draw support from the region and ensure that the country does
not become isolated in its hour of crisis. Delegates developed concrete
action plans to tackle these issues, and the others raised at the convention.
about governance called for a restoration of democratic institutions and
civil rights as well as the cessation of the politics of chaos witnessed
over the last two years. In his opening remarks, Reverend Charles Chiriseri
urged participants to break the historical cycle of violence plaguing
Zimbabwe. He said, "we must shun stone age politics that base human
relationships on who has a bigger stick to beat with or a larger stone
to throw. I urge you all, across all creeds, races, and ethnicities, to
build relationships on respect, tolerance and human dignity."
on the urgent need for agrarian reform, but insisted that it be a non-partisan,
equitable and long-term process designed around national development,
social stability and economic growth.
Linked to the agrarian
reform debate was the issue of food security. Participants condemned the
current partisan distribution of food aid which threatens over 8 million
Zimbabweans with starvation. Archbishop Pius Ncube of the Catholic Diocese
of Bulawayo urged that immediate action be taken to feed starving Zimbabweans,
sentiments which were echoed by Bishop Sitshebo of the Anglican Church
Matabeleland. Delegates established a taskforce to end the state monopoly
on importation and distribution, and to promote the liberalisation of
food importation to permit business, churches and civil society groups
to help feed the nation.
the AIDS pandemic a "crisis within the crisis," as economic
hardship, poor implementation of assistance programmes, and non-transparent
disbursement of relief funds are exacerbating the suffering of those infected
with and affected by HIV. A call was made for government’s multisectoral
approach to HIV/AIDS to be consolidated into an implementable plan of
action agreed on by all stakeholders. Participants agreed that the action
plan should be specific in offering support to people infected with and
affected by HIV/AIDS.
Pastor Patson Netha
of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa reiterated the commitment
of church groups to bringing peace to Zimbabwe. The convention, he said,
"is not an event, but a process. The church is coming together to
stand and say ‘we have role to play in Zimbabwe’, a prophetic, priestly,
pastoral role as the conscience of the nation."
Netha affirmed the
need for all church groupings, civil society organisations and concerned
individuals to move beyond individual difference and unite in a commitment
to immediate action and the creation of another Zimbabwe, with peace,
truth and justice.
Visit the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition fact sheet
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