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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • Defiance campaign in Byo
    Nqobani Ndlovu,The Standard (Zimbabwe)
    April 15, 2007

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    BULAWAYO - Church leaders yesterday defied a police order barring opposition spokesmen from addressing a prayer meeting in Bulawayo and urged the government to stop abducting its critics.

    The meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign (ZSC) was held at the Roman Catholic Church's St Patrick's Cathedral in Makokoba to pray for "an end to the country's political and economic problems".

    ZSC was only given permission to hold the meeting on Friday evening on condition that opposition leaders would not be allowed to address the service.

    But pro-Senate MDCleader Arthur Mutambara was given the platform and immediately attacked the government for "worsening the political and economic situation in the country".

    Thokozani Khuphe, vice-president of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, was among the more than 1 000 people who attended the service. They included bishops from Malawi and South Africa.

    The spokesperson of the anti-Senate MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said Tsvangirai failed to attend the service because the party was holding an executive meeting in Harare at the same time.

    Speaking at the service, outspoken Bulawayo cleric Archbishop Pius Ncube said it was time Zimbabweans "stood up together and confront the Mugabe-led government".

    "The President of this country is also suffering under the current situation," Ncube said. "We have a duty to save him as he and his family is not at ease. They are suffering and don't know how to help themselves to get out of this situation."

    Mutambara said opposition parties and civic groups must unite to form a strong coalition ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

    "There is no alternative to working together. If Herbert Chitepo, Alfred Nikita Mangena and Jason Moyo and other late liberation war fighters were alive, they were going to be with us in fighting the Mugabe-led government," he said.

    In a solidarity message at the same meeting, the general secretary of the Malawi Council of Churches, Canaan Phiri, said the region must not be fooled by claims that Zimbabwe's crisis was as a result of "illegal sanctions".

    "The crisis in Zimbabwe is of your government's making. What you are going through right now is what we went through under Kamuzu Banda.

    "We believe violence breeds violence and violence against the opposition will not solve the crisis in Zimbabwe," Phiri said.

    Meanwhile, two SZC leaders in Bulawayo, Ray Motsi and Patson Nhetawere were briefly detained by police on Thursday over the series of prayer meetings being held around the country.

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