Zimbabwe


Friday 7 August 2009

Hilary Clinton announced in Pretoria today that the US will not be ending their sanctions against the leaders of Zimbabwe. I should hope not, too. Britain and the European Union maintain the same stance and it is to be hoped that this will continue until the rule of law is properly and fully re-established, elections are free and fair, there is an end to intimidation and violence and the political institutions have regained their integrity. Contrary to Zimbabwean propaganda, the sanctions do not inflict suffering on ordinary Zimbabweans or their economy; they stop Zanu PF leaders from travelling abroad, freeze their foreign-held assets and boycott arms sales. Imagine what could be done if the foreign assets (including Mugabe’s stashed millions) could be appropriated and spent on rebuilding the schools in Zimbabwe?

Well, having read in previous posts about renewed optimism in Zimbabwe, you might well wonder how this sits with the paragraph above. It is quite simple. Mugabe has been brought to the point where he could not govern and could not save the economy – hence, he had no option but to accept a Unity Government and the compromises that would come with it. The country is not out of the woods, but that does not and should not stop us from recognising the good that is now coming. The optimism is real, despite the realism about the long way still to go.

St Patrick's 001St Patrick's 006Today I saw real signs of progress and hope. Two years ago we stayed at St Patrick’s Mission, just outside Gweru, and asked questions about how little progress had been made on just about every project there: school, church, pigs, agriculture, clinic/hospital, water, etc. Nothing seemed to be happening. Yet, as I have been constantly told this week, 2007 and 2008 were lost years. The situation was so bad that almost nothing could be done anywhere about anything.

But, today I visited St Patrick’s again and found:

  • St Patrick's 011The new hospital walls are up to roof level and should be there by the end of August. Door and window frames are gradually going in.
  • The mortuary was being roofed while I watched. The fridges have already been ordered.
  • The clinic has just received a large order of equipment (syringes, gloves, sterile packs, sharps boxes, etc).
  • There are now 13 pigs and plans to get another ten sows for breeding (which, apparently, could give up to 70 piglets each year).
  • Chickens are being reared and I saw the runs being built above ground to protect them from snakes.
  • Plans are being made to site and install generators to allow electricity in different sectors of the site by order of priority.
  • St Patrick's 012Plans are now in hand to establish a new water tank to supply the lower part of this huge site: nurses houses, school dormitories and the hospital.
  • The agricultural gardens that were derelict are now fully planted and being carefully cultivated for sale and feeding the 700+ children at the school.
  • The grinding mill bought by the Croydon Episcopal Area is working and the ground maize is being sold locally at profit for the school and clinic.

St Patrick's 019The ambulance and the lorry are both now in full working order.

This is remarkable. Add to this the fact that this school stayed open when most other schools were shut for months on end and you see the achievement. The key to this has been leadership from the bishop (both visionary and practical – he used to be a mining engineer), the appointment of a very good young priest to oversee all the projects run by the diocese and a renewed sense of possibility now that money means something again and thought can be given to feeding animals and not just people.

This turn-around is very impressive. There is a huge amount to do and a long way to go. But it all now looks possible and achievable again. Today saw the first power cut in a week – which might sound rubbish to the rest of us, but is a cause of both surprise and celebration here in Gweru.

Tomorrow we leave at 6am to drive to Gokwe for the first day of a diocesan youth conference – with nearly 500 young people. I can’t wait for the singing and dancing. Given that a West Indian mate of mine says that if he wants a laugh, he watches a white man ‘dance’, I’ll just watch and take the pictures…

Thursday 6 August 2009

I have heard a great deal about St Mark’s, Lozane, but never seen it or been there. In 2003 we sent over by container a load of desks and benches to re-equip the primary school there and during a visit in 2007 a couple of our group stayed out there. But, this morning we set out on the rocky road to Lozane – about 80km from Gweru.

The road was tarmaced for about 15km and then reduced to a ragged single-track road before turning into a dirt-track for the last 20km. We passed hundreds of children by the sides of the road, mostly on their way to or from school. Unremarkable? Maybe. But less than a year ago this would have been a rare sight as teachers could not be paid and schools closed all over the country.

Lozane 005Lozane 004Lozane 001Lozane 002It is hard to explain the situation at St Mark’s. The church is cracked, decrepit and falling down. The school buildings are in a similar state and some cannot be used. The priest’s house (which he shares with his wife and four children) is decrepit and small with cracks down walls throughout. In England no one would be allowed anywhere near these buildings – especially not children – because of serious health and safety concerns. Yet this primary school has 302 children from a very poor rural area.

A number of years ago this school (and many others) were taken away from the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe – which had built and run them for decades – by the Government. A year or two ago the Government decided to hide its failure and give the schools back to the Church. However, before doing so, they got rid of all the school furniture, fittings, books and other goods. How’s that for investing in your country’s future? Despite the destruction, the Church took them back and has begun to start again with very few resources at a time of national disaster economically.

Lozane 010What is most remarkable is the commitment of the priest and the new head teacher – a young Roman Catholic. The priest, Robson, came here six years ago, has no means of transport, yet walks long distances every week (up to 15km) to attend to his parishioners. He has few resources and raises chickens and grows crops to feed his family. The head teacher described him as an ‘excellent evangelist’, so I asked what he meant by that. He said that he is there for his people, always keeps his word and his appointments, provides leadership and draws people to the church by his (very costly) faithfulness. Equally, the head teacher opted to lead this school after years of no one being willing to do it. He is an enthusiast, is practically-minded and visionary in building for the future.

Lozane 009The project at Lozane is to grow crops to feed the children properly at the school. They have already sunk a bore hole and now have access to clean water. Yet, as a visitor, I could not but help look at the buildings and see the urgent need for those to be demolished and rebuilt properly. I have no idea how these people stick at such unglamorous work in such difficult circumstances and at such cost to themselves and their families. Their faith in God is not fantasy, nor is it some emotional crutch to get them through life (as some atheist cynics would have it); rather, it is precisely what motivates them to give their lives in order that the lives of others might be improved both now and for the future.

It is deeply impressive and both challenging and humbling.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

A few years ago Christopher Booker wrote a fascinating book about the seven narratives that form every story known to humankind. I think it was called The Seven Basic Plots – but I can’t look it up here in a bedroom in Central Zimbabwe with no internet connection and my own copy back in Croydon. Booker’s thesis is basically that any story anywhere will correspond to or derive from one of these fundamental plots.

Well, I have sat down and watched South African TV soaps and they are the same as every other British, European and American soap opera. No one has an ordinary life in which ordinary things happen… like meals and chat and falling asleep. Instead, every conversation is pregnant with significance as life-changing decisions are made and statements uttered. Every encounter is a crisis and it’s all about dodgy kids (of any age), relationship break-up, relationship make-up, hope, denial, death, dying, love and romance. It is dire – whichever language it is in.

Then there was the advert promising exposure of celebrity couples and their relationships. Is there nowhere in the world where this obsession is seen for the nasty escapist voyeurism it actually is? How depressing.

Simba

So I arm-wrestled the bishop’s five-year old grandson, Simba, seen here this afternoon when he tried on my sunglasses. Just how cool is that?

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Rose of hopeThe new optimism in Zimbabwe feels palpable, but this is a subjective judgement based on limited experience. However, it is backed up by everyone I have spoken to in the last twenty four hours. One measure of this might be the resumption of building for the future. When I was here two years ago I observed that almost every building project had stopped – not only because of lack of money (astronomical inflation and consequent unemployment had reduced the economy to ruin), but also because it is hard to plan for a future when your mind is focused on your next meal and whether your kids will ever go to school again. On one desolate farm I took a photograph of a single flower planted in dry earth – a symbol of defiant hope that out of the arid deadness will one day come new beauty.

Zimbabwe 1 007Zimbabwe 1 008This morning I was taken to a building project at Ascot – which does not resemble the English Ascot in any respect whatsoever. This is a building site on which hundreds of houses are built, half-built or started. Bishop Ishmael took a visionary decision four years ago and bought four plots for houses. The plan was to house two diocesan staff (and their families) in two of the houses, then let the other two to provide an income which would pay the expenses of the other two houses – thus rendering the future housing of these people cost-neutral to the diocese. One family is already living in one house (only the outside now needs to be painted) and the second is almost finished. A third is half-finished and the fourth simply has the walls and roof built so far.

At one point last year the wisdom of buying these plots looked suspect, to say the least. Today it looks vindicated. There is now the money available (US Dollars and South African Rand) for people to give, and one house has been adopted by the parish of St Luke, KweKwe (where I will be next Sunday) which will complete the house at their expense and then hand it over to the diocese. The doors, window frames and electricity are already installed.

We left Ascot and went on to visit another project at Harben Park. The diocese bought three large plots of land and then were unable to progress their agricultural development because of lack of money and people’s inability to get there (lack of fuel). The plan is for these plots to be developed, with the produce then sold to raise funds towards paying the stipends and pensions of the clergy in the diocese. In order to plant you have to be able to conceive of a future and see it as worth investing in. Plans are now afoot to begin this work once the Ascot houses are finished.

This might not seem much by English standards. But the challenges here have been enormous and people have survived with their faith and integrity intact. The clergy – led by their bishop – have, to my mind, been exemplars of the vocation of the Old Testament prophets: to keep hope alive for people when the evidence of their eyes tells a different story; to sing songs of ‘home’ when people feel themselves to be in the exile of the desert; to promise a future when the present speaks only of death and destruction.

Partnership with these people is a privilege.

Monday 3 August 2009

Today I leave for just over a week in Zimbabwe. On the phone last night my daughter asked me why I am going there again. Another friend asked me if I ever go anywhere normal. How rude of both of them!

A bit of history might be useful, starting with the recent political and economic situation and following on with the story of the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe in the last decade. Then the reason for my visit will make more sense. I will be brief and run the risk of giving an incomplete and subjective survey.

When Robert Mugabe became President of the new Republic of Zimbabwe in 1979 he was a hero. Even Ian Smith, the deposed white Prime Minister of Rhodesia, commented positively on the early days of Mugabe’s rule. As the decades went by, people became frustrated with the lack of progress in some areas of economic life and Mugabe resorted to a disastrous redistribution of land from white farmers to black indigenous ‘war veterans’. The violence and injustice of the methods used (even if the need for the redistribution was acknowledged) turned the world against Mugabe, who then became increasingly extreme in his opposition to the West that was now isolating him politically and economically. Apart from genocidal slaughter of the Ndebele, corrupt fiddling of elections, disastrous economic policies and a victim complex that allowed everybody in Zimbabwe to suffer other than himself and his cronies, he reduced his once thriving country to a ruin. Last year, having stolen the election, he oversaw starvation, cholera, rampant inflation (they stopped counting at 231,000,000%) and almost total unemployment.

Lozane 017The world watched in disgust as this breadbasket of Africa became a basket case. When I was here two years ago inflation was a mere 10,000% and we thought it couldn’t get worse. There were power cuts that went on for days, water stopped being pumped, schools couldn’t function and the economy packed up. Then Mugabe reluctantly acceded to a Unity Government, bringing in the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as Prime Minister. This was a risky move and invited the suspicion of a worried ZanuPF elite and the charge of treachery from elements of the MDC. Yet this single move is probably responsible for the turn-around in Zimbabwe’s fortunes that is now evident.

The Zim Dollar is dead. Now the main currency is the US Dollar, but other currencies are also legitimate (Sterling, the South African Rand, the Euro). Allowances being paid to workers (instead of salaries) have allowed work to resume. Supermarkets are full of produce, transport is working again, life has re-started for many people. Yes, there are still massive health problems and serious questions about management of the economy; the rule of law has yet to be re-established and justice restored; the life expectancy of this HIV/Aids-devastated country is still in the mid-30s for both men and women; many ordinary people do not find it easy to get hold of US Dollars and food programmes are still needed. But the schools are open again, teachers are teaching, factories are beginning to open again and trade is resuming.

Within that politico-economic context the Anglican Church had a particular role to play. Opposition to Mugabe’s cruelties and insane economic policies was led by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, until he was compromised by the CIO (secret police). The Anglican Church had been rendered impotent by its own internal scandals – principally the election of Nolbert Kunonga as Bishop of Harare in (I think) 2002. Kunonga was a Mugabe henchman who was rewarded for his loyalty with a formerly white-owned farm. Kunonga was a disaster of epic proportions who regarded the Church (and its assets) as his personal property and managed to prevent the Anglican Church offering a coherent opposition voice to Mugabe. It was only in 2007 that Kunonga (and the newly-elected Bishop of Manicaland, Elson Jakazi) made a wrong move, was excommunicated from the Province of Central Africa and regarded as persona non grata by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion.

The Church is now re-building its effectiveness across the country, but it is far from out of the woods. Despite numerous court rulings, Kunonga still holds onto the assets of the Diocese of Harare and (although it looks as if this might be changing) is backed by the police.

So, why am I bothered? The Diocese of Southwark is divided into three Episcopal Areas: Kingston, Woolwich and Croydon. Each Episcopal Area is linked with one of the five dioceses in Zimbabwe (Harare being linked with Rochester in England and Masvingo with Southwark Cathedral). When I became Bishop of Croydon in 2003 I walked straight into the link with the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe and its bishop, Ishmael Mukuwanda. I visited Gweru with my wife in 2004, then took a group of 20 for a two-week visit in 2007 – a visit that was fraught with difficulties including constant harassment from the secret police and misrepresentation in the Zimbabwean media (and, subsequently, across the world via the Internet).

Zimbabwe mapThe Croydon-Zimbabwe Link Team does fantastic work partnering parishes in my Episcopal Area with parishes in Central Zimbabwe, raising funds for very practical projects in Central Zimbabwe aimed at securing long-term growth and financial self-sufficiency for the diocese. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe daily and weekly in our churches and we know that we are prayed for, too. This is a relationship that has grown through testing times – one that has mutual benefits and is carefully trying to avoid being characterised as a donor-receiver relationship.

I am going out to Zimbabwe from 3-11 August to visit the bishop (who is now a very good friend), to catch up on projects and people, to see for myself what is happening in the country, to do whatever I am asked to do while I am there and to discuss future direction and priorities. Maybe the impressions gained during hard times will now be revised – or maybe not. But, at least I will see for myself and not have to rely on third-hand news reports.

I am not sure whether or not I will be able to blog from there or not. I am not sure about broadband internet availability. So, it is entirely possible that I will be publishing a large number of posts in one go when I return. We will see.

It was encouraging to watch the news last night and see that the BBC has been (officially) readmitted to Zimbabwe after several years of (official) absence. I will be in Zimbabwe from Monday 3 – 10 August (i.e. next week) and will be interested to see how deep the apparent renewed optimism goes.

Welcome to ZimbabweWhen I was last there I got stitched up by the government-run media. I had taken a group of 20 people from the Croydon Episcopal Area of the Diocese of Southwark in 2007 and in our second week we were invited to a meeting with the since-retired Governor of the Midlands Province, Cephas Msipa. He was a nice man and was very warm and welcoming to us. I asked if he would mind if we took a few photographs and he said he had no problem with that – as we would have no problem with his people taking a few photos, too.

The ‘few photos’ turned out to be a television crew and a national newspaper journalist (among others). Taken by surprise by this, I tried to make sure that every time the camera was focused on us my arms were crossed, my eyes were down and my head was shaking – all to ensure that I couldn’t be edited in a way that showed me supporting or agreeing with the anti-British propaganda that we would undoubtedly be fed. At the end of a polite-but-frank, useful and substantial exchange of views the Governor brought proceedings to an end, apologising that we had strayed into politics and away from ‘welcome’. And that was when the fun started.

The national journalist (although I did not know at that point that this is who he was) attacked me with accusations of British neo-colonialism, etc – the usual stuff. I countered firmly, but politely. He then went on to accuse the British media of deliberately misrepresenting Zimbabwe for their own political ends and that really annoyed me. I suggested that banning the BBC and other western media organs from Zimbabwe did not help their cause, raised speculation about what they were trying to hide and betrayed great insecurity. However, I then added: “Anyone who deals with the media gets misrepresented or misquoted – even in the UK; but you can deal with it in a democracy by countering or complaining and getting it put right. Zimbabwe can’t ban the BBC and then complain when they get at second or third hand what they feel to be misrepresentation! You can’t have it both ways…” This was followed by  alonger informal conversation after the meeting finished.

The next morning the front page headline of the Herald proclaimed: ‘Clergyman condemns UK media lies’, reporting that I had led a group of 20 clergy [sic] to Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission [sic] and saw no evidence of problems – putting it all down to media lies by a politically motivated British media. I protested directly to the Governor (who had given me his mobile phone number – probably in anticipation of such an event) who got a TV report re-edited and then withdrawn and apologised to me for what he also recognised as deliberate fabrication and misrepresentation of both the meeting we had had and the comments I had made.

However, this didn’t stop the story getting repeated around the world. One amazingly brazen magazine in the UK, New African, even published what purported to be first-hand interview with me in which I reinforced what the Herald had published. I had never heard of New African, had not been approached by them and they refused to print my letter challenging the article – in fact, they never even responded.

I still get what can only be described as ‘hate mail’ on the basis of what I was reported to have said. I followed up this trip with an article in the Church Times (which I cannot now find), but it was also mentioned in an article in the Church Times while we were still out there in Zimbabwe. I understand that the journalist who wrote this later committed suicide, but I have no idea of the circumstances.

I will be back there next week and looking for signs of change. This beautiful country with its wonderful people deserves better than it has experienced during the last years. I hope to find genuine grounds for renewed optimism – but without restoration of the rule of law and a genuinely free media, such optimism will be mere wishful thinking.

Here in England we shake our heads at groups of American tourists who tell us that they are ‘doing Europe’ in a week. Saying ‘I’ve been to Austria’ is not quite the same as spending time with Austrians and learning how they tick – especially if ‘Austria’ looked like a whizz through The Sound of Music and its singing nuns up a mountain.

Welcome to ZimbabweBut, if that sort of tourism does the European head in (so to speak), there is one version of ‘doing Europe’ that I am enthusiastic to commend. Yesterday John Hale and Andy Thomas set off to ride their motorbikes through 12 European countries in 6 days. They are not doing it for fun – it will mean hard driving for around ten hours each day – but to raise cash for buying and equipping motorbikes to be used in health work in Zimbabwe. I waved them off outside a shop in Croydon from a standing position: one thing you will never get me on is a motorbike…

John and Andy left Croydon in the early morning yesterday and they aim to raise £20,000 towards the building of a workshop in Harare which will form the base for the maintenance and supply of small motorbikes for health workers. Great idea for an achievable goal.

Their progress can be tracked by GPS from the www.12in6.org website and money can be donated through www.justgiving.com/12in6. So far just over £11,000 has been raised. It would be brilliant if the goal had been reached by the time the two blokes get back from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech Republic and the UK.

Although a bike fan since he was 14, John is motivated by another factor. He and his wife, Lynne, lost their 17 year old son, Chip, in a bike accident in Croydon two years ago and it was the shock of this that started thm thinking about things. As a result they started working with Riders for Health to raise money for their projects in Africa.

I will be in Zimbabwe in early August visiting Harare, Gweru and other places and hope to drop in on this project to take some pictures. It would be great if the workshop was up and running. We’ll see.

In April 2007 I took a group of twenty people from the Croydon Episcopal Area to visit the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe, based in and around Gweru. While there I found myself headlined on the front page of the government-run ‘newspaper’, the Herald. Apparently I had seen no problems in Zimbabwe – it was all the fault of ‘UK media lies’. Sorting that mess out cost me almost £400 in mobile phone charges and I still find myself misrepresented across the internet.

But, apart from that, it was a great trip. The funniest thing I saw was a newspaper billboard. We were returning from Victoria Falls to Gweru and passed the wonderful headline: ‘Prophet drowns during baptism’. I am truly sorry for the guy who drowned; but he wasn’t a very good prophet, was he? And nothing was said about the person he was baptising when he drowned. (Do me a ‘theology’ of that one!)

I will be back in Zimbabwe in August, hoping to see the situation improving since the formation of the coalition government in Harare. But, I’m not holding my breath.

welcome-to-zimbabwe

The Anglican bishops, meeting in Bulawayo for the consecration of Bishop Cleophas Lunga on Sunday 1 March 2009, issued the following statement. It deserves wider acknowledgement, so I publish it here.

welcome-to-zimbabweStatement on the Government of National Unity by the Bishops of the Church of the Province of Central Africa at the Consecration of the Right Reverend Cleophas Lunga as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Matabeleland on the 1st Sunday of Lent 1st March 2009 at the Parish Church of St Columbus, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

We the Bishops of the Province of Central Africa in holding and believing that all people are created equal in the image of God and that God wills his people to live their lives to its full potential abundantly, cautiously welcome the formation of the Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe.

This development comes after a long period of political polarisation which created immense suffering of the people. However we are concerned about the continued detention of some political and human rights activists which is indicative of business as usual contrary to the spirit and objectives of Global Agreement. The continued detention of the activists is not conducive to the spirit of reconciliation and to the promotion of peace and justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.

The Bishops of this Province urge the political leaders in this formation to put the interests of the people and the development of the nation in the fore. The leaders of the Government of National Unity should think profoundly and reflectively on the past weaknesses such as corruption, patronage, selfishness and regionalism and avoid them by dedicating themselves to the promotion of the rule of law, respect of human rights and good governance.

The bishops pray that the parties involved will faithfully commit themselves to the fulfilment and spirit of the objectives enshrined in the Global Agreement. This demands a high level of transparency and consultation for all parties involved.

We urge our people to play an active role in the success of the Government of National Unity by fervent prayer and safeguarding the gospel values of love, peace and righteousness. We further ask our people to genuinely reconcile themselves to one another and above to our God of peace and justice.

God bless Africa

God bless Zimbabwe

Guard her children

Guide her leaders

Give her peace for Jesus Christ’s sake

Bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda (President of the Service), Central Zimbabwe Bishop Godfrey Tawonezvi (ACZ Chairman), Masvingo Bishop Sebastian Bakare, Harare CPCA Bishop Peter Hatendi, Manicaland CPCA Bishop Trevor Mwamba, Botswana Bishop Robert Mumbi (ZAC Presiding Bishop), Luapula Bishop Derek Kamukwamba, Central Zambia Bishop David Njovu, Lusaka Bishop William Mchombo (Acting Provincial Secretary), Eastern Zambia

welcome-to-zimbabwe

Good news. Yesterday the Primates of the Anglican Communion issued a strongly worded statement about the situation in Zimbabwe, calling on Robert Mugabe to heed the decision of the people in last year’s elections and stand down. They further resolved to send an envoy to Zimbabwe to support and encourage the churches there. And, lest the cynics get going on the ‘all prayer, no action’ mantra, they also set out to facilitate ways of distributing aid better. The Diocese of Southwark has been resourcing the Zimbabwean Church for years while all the public attention has been elsewhere.

This development is important not least because Zimbabwe has quickly disappeared from the radar screen of many in the UK. The crisis in Gaza filled the screens and newspapers, leaving the ongoing (but less photogenic) catastrophic suffering in Zimbabwe to the memories of those who realise that just because the media have moved on does not mean the problem has been solved.

A podcast of Primates speaking about this matter can be accessed at http://www.aco.org/daily/podcasts/source/primates_press030209.mp3

The Primates’ statement says the following:

The Primates of the Anglican Communion, meeting in Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd February, 2009, heard first hand reports of the situation in Zimbabwe, and note with horror the appalling difficulties of the people of this nation under the current regime.

 

We give thanks to God for the faithful witness of the Christians of Zimbabwe during this time of pain and suffering, especially those who are being denied access to their churches. We wish to assure them of our love, support and prayers as they face gross violation of human rights, hunger and loss of life as well as the scourge of a cholera epidemic, all due directly to the deteriorating socio-political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.

 

It is a matter of grave concern that there is an apparent breakdown of the rule of law within the country, and that the democratic process is being undermined, as shown in the flagrant disregard of the outcome of the democratic elections of March 31st 2008, so that Mr Robert Mugabe illegitimately holds on to power. Even the recent political situation of power sharing, brokered by SADC, may not be long lasting and simply further entrench Mr Mugabe’s regime.   There appears to be a total disregard for life, consistently demonstrated by Mr Mugabe through systematic kidnap, torture and the killing of Zimbabwean people. The economy of Zimbabwe has collapsed, as evidenced by the use of foreign currencies in an independent state.

 

We therefore call upon President Robert Mugabe to respect the outcome of the elections of 2008 and to step down. We call for the implementation of the rule of law and the restoration of democratic processes.

 

We request that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, in consultation with the Church of the Province of Central Africa, commission a Representative to go to Zimbabwe to exercise a ministry of presence and to show solidarity with the Zimbabwean people. We also request the President of the All Africa Conference of Churches and the Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa to facilitate a meeting with the African Union president and other African political leaders (especially those of SADC) to highlight the plight of the Zimbabwean peoples.

 

We call upon parishes throughout the Anglican Communion to assist the Anglican Communion Office, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Office and the Anglican Observer to the United Nations in addressing the humanitarian crisis by giving aid through such mechanisms as the Archbishop of Canterbury is able to designate, and asking that Lambeth Palace facilitate processes by which food and other material aid for Zimbabwe can be distributed through the dioceses of the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

 

We urge the Churches of the Anglican Communion to join with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in observing Wednesday 25th February 2009, Ash Wednesday, as a day of prayer and solidarity with the Zimbabwean people.

 

As representatives of the Anglican Communion, we reiterate that we do not recognise the status of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and Bishop Elson Jakazi as bishops within the Anglican Communion, and call for the full restoration of Anglican property within Zimbabwe to the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

 

We affirm the initiative of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist (ACSA) in collaboration with Lambeth Palace, the Anglican Communion Office and the Church of the Province of Central Africa in establishing a chaplaincy along the Zimbabwe-South Africa border for the pastoral care of the many refugees, and call upon the Anglican Communion to support this work.

mugabe1

 

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