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  • Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles

  • Statement by the Right Revd Rubin Phillip, the Anglican Bishop of Natal, on the attack and invasion of churches, and, harassment of Civil Society leaders in Zimbabwe
    Bishop Rubin Phillip, Solidarity Peace Trust
    July 21, 2005

    Four clergymen, including Father Barnabas of the Anglican Church and Pastor Ray Motsi of the Baptist Church in Bulawayo, were arrested and held for questioning last night when they went to investigate reports that police where forcibly evicting people from their churches where they had been receiving temporary refuge as a result of the mass demolition of their homes in the townships. Despite being released at 4:00 am this morning, they have been told to report back to the police today for further questioning. This action against Church people follows the quizzing of two senior clergymen in Mutare by CIO agents yesterday for allegedly 'painting a negative picture' to the UN envoy Anna Tibayuko on the government's controversial clean-up campaign.

    This action against Church leaders is taking place at a time when Church leaders from South Africa have been calling for closer collaboration between churches in Zimbabwe and South Africa to respond to the enormous humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Zimbabwe. As such it points towards a deliberate retribution campaign on the part of the ruling party against church and civil society leaders for offering support and refuge to those displaced by the violent destruction of their property, and for allegedly giving negative reports to the UN and SACC envoys on the government's clean-up operation.

    Such action calls into question the intention of the Zimbabwean government's so-called urban renewal campaign and appeal for funding to South Africa and other countries for finances to address the socio-economic crisis of their own making. The Church is mandated by God to care for the poor and afflicted and to uphold the truth in the face of tyranny and deceit, and the harassment and intimidation of her leaders for obeying this mandate is deplorable and is strongly condemned.

    The Solidarity Peace Trust calls on Church leaders in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the entire SADC region to combine in condemning this action, and calling on the Zimbabwean government to respect the sanctity of life and the role of the Church in caring for the poor and dispossessed without interference from the state.

    Visit the Solidarity Peace Trust fact sheet

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