Zimbabwe's churches reject Mugabe victory
Zimbabwe’s Christian community has rejected President Robert Mugabe’s re-election last month as marred by violence and intimidation and expressed support for efforts to form a government of national unity.
In a statement obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, the heads of all the churches in the predominantly Christian country said the race between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was marked by the worst violence since independence in 1980.
Mugabe won a landslide victory last month in a vote that was ultimately boycotted by Tsvangirai and denounced by Western nations. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change says pro-Mugabe militia have killed at least 113 of its supporters.
“We, the churches of Zimbabwe, stand ready and committed to partner with all efforts that will result in a transitional authority and subsequently a government of national unity, to bring peace stability and reconciliation within the nation,” the church statement said.
The 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader, in power since the end of British rule, blames the opposition for the bloodshed.
“People were subjected to the most traumatic forms of violence that included torture, murder, abductions, displacement and psychological trauma,” the Heads of Christian Denominations said in the statement.
“Based on the reality of the conditions prevailing on the ground, our conclusion is that the will of the people of Zimbabwe was not given authentic expression during these elections,” they said, adding that the violence was continuing.
Tsvangirai, who cited the violence for his withdrawal from the June vote, has demanded that the government halt all attacks on his supporters as one of several pre-conditions to negotiating with Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF.
The MDC leader also wants an African Union envoy named to help mediate talks and Mugabe to recognise his victory in a March 27 poll. Tsvangirai won the first round but failed to get the absolute majority needed to avoid a second ballot.
Mugabe insists the opposition recognise his re-election.
Preliminary talks between Tsvangirai’s MDC, a smaller faction of the party and Zanu-PF appear to have stalled despite the efforts of South African mediators to get all three to agree to a framework for more substantial negotiations.
An opposition source said on Tuesday the talks were set to resume on Wednesday.
South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad told reporters in Pretoria that there was no need for an AU-appointed mediator to enter the talks, describing the appeal to do so as a “fake argument”.
South Africa and other AU members are pressuring Mugabe and Tsvangirai to accept a power-sharing deal that could be modeled on the one put in place in Kenya after post-election violence erupted there earlier this year.
African leaders see a unity government as the way to avert a spread of violence and total economic collapse in Zimbabwe, which has the world’s highest inflation rate, estimated at more than two million percent, and chronic food and fuel shortages. - Reuters