British campaigners support rally for Zimbabwe

By staff writers
March 10, 2007

Church groups are among those who will be joining campaigners in Trafalgar Square from 1 - 4 pm today (10 March 2007), to support a rally against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

The demonstration has been organised by ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa), the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement – which campaigned against minority rule in the old South Africa.

ACTSA is supported by development and church groups, and by trade unionists, who are appalled at the brutal treatment of labour movement activists in Zimbabwe.

The rally has a particular focus on International Women's Day and the plight of women in Zimbabwe. ACTSA has invited high profile speakers including the Zimbabwean trade unionists, Lovemore Matombo and Lucia Matibenga, both of whom were brutally assaulted for making peaceful protests in September 2006.

Also present will be Labour MP Kate Hoey, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean protest singer Viomak will also perform.

There has been growing international concern at economic collapse, social injustice and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Earlier this week, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Bernard Malango, Archbishop of Central Africa, held a meeting with Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, Anglican Bishop of Harare – who is seen as a Mugabe stooge by opponents of the Mugabe regime, and has been accused of corruption.

There have been calls for Kunonga to be removed from his post, and the way the leaders of the Anglican Communion have handled the situation has been contrasted by many with the disciplinary treatment meted out to those taking an affirming stance towards gay people.

“I find it astonishing and disturbing that a bishop who colludes with injustice and terror should be affectively appeased, while those who seek to serve the Gospel are bullied”, one priest, who wished not to be named, told Ekklesia.

The two Primates issued a joint statement at the conclusion of the meeting with Bishop Kunonga:

"We are grateful for the chance to meet face to face and discuss the role of the church in Zimbabwe and the wider region in working towards the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals.

"We shared our deep concerns with the Bishop of Harare about the situation in Zimbabwe, affirming those places where Anglican ministries are bearing fruit and the church is growing, but also expressing the widespread concerns in the global church and in the international community about the deteriorating economic life of Zimbabwe and issues of human rights and peaceful non-partisan protest.

"We encouraged the development of an independent voice for the church in response to these challenges. All ministers of the gospel must be free to serve and to speak for the needs of those most deprived and disadvantaged.

"We want to find new channels of communication and to facilitate regional conversations about issues of development and justice, including the impact of sanctions, so that Anglicans may work together more effectively with and for the poor whom they serve in Christ's name."

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