Zimbabwe is facing mass hunger, says archbishop
Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo has warned that 200,000 Zimbabweans could die of hunger over the next few months because of food shortages resulting from government policies.
Speaking at the launch of a new film on Operation Murambatsvina, the regime's recent massive demolition programme, he declared: 'I think Mugabe should just be banished, like [Liberian president] Charles Taylor.'
The archbishop claimed that food security in Zimbabwe was now so precarious that he estimated unless there was a dramatic change of policy malnutrition could contribute to tens of thousands of premature deaths by February 2006.
Ncube said that this was a personal estimate based on his estimate of the effect of severe food shortages on a population ravaged by HIV/Aids and extreme poverty at a time of hyperinflation and mass unemployment.
According to Independent Catholic News the archbishop added that 700 people a day were already dying of Aids in Zimbabwe and the present rate would certainly increase with malnutrition.
The Rt Rev Rubin Phillip, Anglican bishop of KwaZulu Natal Province in South Africa and the co-chairperson of the Solidarity Peace Trust, a group of church leaders committed to human rights and democracy, said Zimbabweans 'were living lives of desperation with no glimmer of hope'.
In May 2005, the government destroyed informal settlements and the kiosks of traders without warning. The United Nations says at least 700,000 people lost their homes or livelihoods in the campaign - one it called a clear violation of international law.
The new film, ëHide and Seek' shows President Mugabe saying that the slum clearance operation would move people into new and better homes built by the government.
But church and human rights activists say the reality is that tens of thousands of people have simply been dumped in rural areas where they are unknown and unwanted.
Nearly all those impacted have no jobs and no money. Eighty percent of the children have not been able to return to school.
"The amount of suffering is beyond imagination," commented Archbishop Ncube.