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Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign
'allow' prayer meeting but ban political speakers
Gonda, SW Radio Africa
April 12, 2007
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Zimbabwe 's church leaders
have said they will go ahead with a prayer meeting in Bulawayo 's
Makokoba Township on Saturday. The state Herald newspaper quotes
police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena saying investigations had revealed
that the Save Zimbabwe Campaign was a political gathering and not
a prayer meeting. Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara where scheduled
to speak at the gathering. Police have said the prayer meeting can
only go ahead if they do not include the politicians in the program.
Pastor Ray Motsi, spokesperson of the Christian Alliance said they
agreed to this after being called into a meeting with security forces.
The Herald newspaper
had also accused Christopher Dell, the United States ambassador
to Zimbabwe , of organising the prayer gathering to intensify pressure
on the Mugabe regime. The Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo , Pius
Ncube, said this is an 'offside' comment. He said the Mugabe regime
becomes paranoid about the international community to the extent
that they see anyone who doesn't agree with them being used by the
Americans or by the British. "The thing is that Zimbabweans
can think on their own. We have brains, surely? The trouble is they
claim that other people are being used by the Americans. It is they
who are being used by the devil unfortunately, as they don't even
care about the suffering of the people."
On Thursday two Christian
Alliance leaders were questioned by police in connection with the
prayer meeting and the priest in charge of St Patrick's Catholic
Church, the venue of the meeting, was told to call off the meeting.
In a clear sign which shows that the police are working under the
instructions of the government, Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba
is reported as saying: "This is a double dressing. At one level
the Archbishop is projecting this political gathering as a convocation
under the Catholic Church, the whole effort is to dress the MDC
with a collar."
But the outspoken Bulawayo
cleric said Mugabe is 'so full of himself' and has refused to listen
to anyone including religious leaders in Zimbabwe who have appealed
for dialogue and peace. "Who does he listen to?" He listens
only to the devil and at least we, who listen to God, have a right
Bishops' Conference recently issued a strongly worded pastoral
letter on the crisis in Zimbabwe . It's reported that copies of
the letter, which were posted on bulletin boards in Catholic churches
across the country, were widely received and applauded by parishioners.
Archbishop Ncube said: "The people have been extremely pleased
that we are standing with them finally, not just standing with the
letter said the crisis in the country was as a crisis of governance
and a crisis of leadership. Archbishop Ncube said they realised
they needed to 'name' this situation as opposed to the National
Vision Document, which is merely a discussion document. The
Zimbabwe We Want: Towards a National Vision was a document that
was launched by the three main Christian groups in Zimbabwe late
last year; the Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference
and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
But Archbishop Ncube
said the discussion document is meant to keep people occupied with
talking while the regime feathers its nest. He asked: "But
with whom do we discuss? We discuss with those who are oppressed.
We know exactly what they are saying. We can't discuss with a government
which is so dog-headed, which is so pig-headed and so stubborn.
The Bishop said this
is the reason that South African President Thabo Mbeki will not
succeed with peace talks in Zimbabwe . Mbeki has tried for several
years to bring Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table to no avail.
The cleric said: "As long as it is a mere sweet-talk and there
is no kind of pressure on him to say - come and talk or else - that
won't succeed. We know the character of this man. This man has been
with us for 27 years. We know what type of man we are dealing with
also lambasted regional leaders, especially Mbeki, for not publicly
censuring Mugabe on the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe where hundreds
of opposition supporters have been and continue to be brutalized.
Mbeki and others say they criticised the Zimbabwean leaders in private
but observers say since this is failing to stop Mugabe, they should
now criticise him in public. Archbishop Pius Ncube believes its
very difficult for some of these African leaders to face Mugabe
as many of them have corrupt governments themselves, making it very
difficult to criticise their neighbour.
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