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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • Mugabe, churches set for fresh confrontation
    Nqobizitha Khumalo, ZimOnline
    April 12, 2007

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    The Save Zimbabwe Campaign says it will this Saturday hold a prayer meeting in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo hardly a month after the police violently crushed a similar meeting in the capital Harare. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, is a coalition of churches, students, labour and opposition political parties that is fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe. The coalition said it will join hands with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference for the prayer meeting at St Patrick's Church in Bulawayo.

    The meetings comes almost a week after Catholic bishops set themselves up for confrontation with President Robert Mugabe's government after they last Sunday called for a meeting to pray for divine intervention in the country's seven-year old political and economic crisis. St Patrick's Church, which is presided over by Archbishop Pius Ncube, has in the past seen fiery sermons by the Catholic clergyman, a vocal critic of Mugabe's government. A spokesperson for the alliance, Reverend Ray Motsi, said the prayer meeting will go ahead this Saturday despite fears of a crackdown by Mugabe's feared state security agents. "This is a prayer meeting for peace, and it will go ahead as planned at a city church; and we do not need to seek permission from anyone when we are seeking God's help to stop our suffering," Motsi said.

    Political tensions are on the rise in Zimbabwe after state agents brutally tortured Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition officials for defying a police ban on rallies last month. Motsi said Zimbabweans had a right to express themselves. "We are bona fide Zimbabweans and everyone who will be at the prayer meeting will be there to pray for God's intercession in Zimbabwe's problems. We do not like breaking the law but if there is something wrong, it is up to someone to speak against it and we are doing that," said Motsi.

    In a strong pastoral letter read in churches around the country last Easter Sunday, Catholic bishops warned Mugabe, himself a devout Catholic, to embrace democracy or face revolt by disgruntled Zimbabweans. The bishops said there was a lot of simmering anger against the government over the erosion of their democratic rights saying oppression in Zimbabwe had reached similar levels experienced under tyrannical Pharaohs of Egypt. Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, has publicly defended the assault on Tsvangirai and other opposition activists saying they deserved to be beaten for defying police orders not to go ahead with last month's meeting. The MDC and church groups accuse Mugabe of ruining Zimbabwe's once brilliant economy which is virtually on its deathbed with rampant inflation of nearly 2 000 percent, the highest in the world outside a war zone.

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