Archbishop urges non-violent resistance in Zimbabwe

By staff writers
28 Mar 2005

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Archbishop urges non-violent resistance in Zimbabwe

-28/03/05

Following a tradition of Christian non-violent resistance to oppression, a senior Church leader in Zimbabwe has openly called for a peaceful uprising against President Robert Mugabe.

Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube told the Johannesburg-based Sunday Independent newspaper he hoped the people would oust Mr Mugabe after Thursday's poll.

He said the parliamentary ballot had already been fixed to ensure the ruling Zanu-PF party won, and urged a "non-violent, popular mass uprising".

Zanu-PF, which denies past vote-rigging claims, has promised fair elections.

But international human rights groups have already raised concerns about a climate of fear and intimidation in the run-up to the vote.

Archbishop Ncube, of Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo, was outspoken in his criticism of Mr Mugabe.

"I hope that people get so disillusioned that they really organise against the government and kick him out by a non-violent, popular, mass uprising," he told the paper.

"Because as it is, people have been too soft with this government.

"So people should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away."

Archbishop Ncube insisted he was not advocating violence but simply backing a peaceful uprising like that in Ukraine last year.

Recent examples from Serbia, the Philippines, and the former USSR have also that peaceful insurrections can be successful and take place with minimum casualties when a population is empowered to overcome its fear of a regime.

In 2002, the Christian think-tank Ekklesia proposed a strategy for non-violent regime change in Iraq.

Experts in non-violent resistance such as Gene Sharp have suggested two hundred non-violent tactics that can be employed in resisting a regime.

Historically non-violent resistance involves the use of a range of forceful sanctions - such as strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, disrupting the functions of government, even non-violent sabotage. This can all be incorporated within a strategy for undermining an oppressor's pillars of support, resourced and supported by the West.

Such a strategy rests on the premise that an authoritarian ruler requires certain services or benefits from the population. Those benefits can be withheld and its ability repressively to compel a population's compliance is not infinite.

NGOís have already pioneered strategies of non-violent resistance with significant effect. In March 2000 the US based International Republican Institute (IRI) taught activists in Serbia how to strike, communicate with symbols, how to hide from police, respond to interrogation and infiltrate a regimes ëpillars of supportí such as the police, media and judiciary. The ëOtporí members, numbering 70,000 are credited with ëmass underground movement that stood at the disciplined core of the hidden revolution that really changed Serbiaí.

Archbishop Ncube said the opposition in Zimbabwe needed to produce "a strong leadership" if Mr Mugabe, who has led the country since 1980, was to be challenged.

A "kind of tacit violence" had characterised the run-up to this year's election, Archbishop Ncube told the Associated Press news agency, although most political rallies have been peaceful.

He also accused the government of denying much-needed food aid to rural supporters of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a rally in the capital, Harare, on Sunday that the country needed "a new vision, a new Zimbabwe that is able to respond to the crisis that we find ourselves in".

"Go and vote for food, go and vote for jobs, go and vote for MDC - and go and vote for your future," AP quotes him as saying.

Following a tradition of Christian non-violent resistance to oppression, a senior Church leader in Zimbabwe has openly called for a peaceful uprising against President Robert Mugabe.

Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube told the Johannesburg-based Sunday Independent newspaper he hoped the people would oust Mr Mugabe after Thursday's poll.

He said the parliamentary ballot had already been fixed to ensure the ruling Zanu-PF party won, and urged a "non-violent, popular mass uprising".

Zanu-PF, which denies past vote-rigging claims, has promised fair elections.

But international human rights groups have already raised concerns about a climate of fear and intimidation in the run-up to the vote.

Archbishop Ncube, of Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo, was outspoken in his criticism of Mr Mugabe.

"I hope that people get so disillusioned that they really organise against the government and kick him out by a non-violent, popular, mass uprising," he told the paper.

"Because as it is, people have been too soft with this government.

"So people should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away."

Archbishop Ncube insisted he was not advocating violence but simply backing a peaceful uprising like that in Ukraine last year.

Recent examples from Serbia, the Philippines, and the former USSR have also that peaceful insurrections can be successful and take place with minimum casualties when a population is empowered to overcome its fear of a regime.

In 2002, the Christian think-tank Ekklesia proposed a strategy for non-violent regime change in Iraq.

Experts in non-violent resistance such as Gene Sharp have suggested two hundred non-violent tactics that can be employed in resisting a regime.

Historically non-violent resistance involves the use of a range of forceful sanctions - such as strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, disrupting the functions of government, even non-violent sabotage. This can all be incorporated within a strategy for undermining an oppressor's pillars of support, resourced and supported by the West.

Such a strategy rests on the premise that an authoritarian ruler requires certain services or benefits from the population. Those benefits can be withheld and its ability repressively to compel a population's compliance is not infinite.

NGO’s have already pioneered strategies of non-violent resistance with significant effect. In March 2000 the US based International Republican Institute (IRI) taught activists in Serbia how to strike, communicate with symbols, how to hide from police, respond to interrogation and infiltrate a regimes ‘pillars of support’ such as the police, media and judiciary. The ‘Otpor’ members, numbering 70,000 are credited with ‘mass underground movement that stood at the disciplined core of the hidden revolution that really changed Serbia’.

Archbishop Ncube said the opposition in Zimbabwe needed to produce "a strong leadership" if Mr Mugabe, who has led the country since 1980, was to be challenged.

A "kind of tacit violence" had characterised the run-up to this year's election, Archbishop Ncube told the Associated Press news agency, although most political rallies have been peaceful.

He also accused the government of denying much-needed food aid to rural supporters of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a rally in the capital, Harare, on Sunday that the country needed "a new vision, a new Zimbabwe that is able to respond to the crisis that we find ourselves in".

"Go and vote for food, go and vote for jobs, go and vote for MDC - and go and vote for your future," AP quotes him as saying.

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