African churches protest at Zimbabwe human rights abuses

By Ecumenical News International
June 17, 2007

The leader of a major grouping of African churches has expressed outrage at human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and has urged the world to help resolve the political crisis in the southern African country - writes Stephen Brown.

"What is happening in Zimbabwe is an embarrassment even to us as Africans," said the Rev Mvume Dandala, general secretary of the Nairobi-based All Africa Conference of Churches, during a recent Protestant convention called the Kirchentag, held in Cologne in western Germany.

"We would like the world to assist us in finding a permanent resolution to the problems we have in Zimbabwe," said Dandala last week at a Kirchentag podium that he shared with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We are outraged when we see the amount of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe," Dandala told the audience.

Zimbabweans are struggling to survive in a country said currently to have an annual inflation rate of more than 2,200 percent, where there is widespread unemployment and poverty, and where President Robert Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, resists calls for political reforms and change.

Dandala said, "When our western partners look for solutions in Zimbabwe they seem to show a tendency to dismiss the injustices of land distribution that sparked off the protest in the first place."

He was referring to President Mugabe's land reform programme that was introduced ostensibly to correct land distribution imbalances created before independence in 1980.

Some political analysts say the seizure of farms from white commercial farmers under the land reform measures is partly to blame for the dramatic slump in food production in the southern African country.

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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