Christian Aid partners report Harare 'tense but quiet'

By agency reporter
June 30, 2008

Latest reports say the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare, is tense but quiet.

According to Christian Aid partner the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) most humanitarian agencies are taking a wait and see attitude.

Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president on Sunday June 29 after a presidential run-off in which he was the sole candidate.

"We are hoping that church and civil society leaders may meet quite soon to discuss the situation," said Useni Sibanda of the ZCA.

The Pan-African Parliament monitors said the pre-election period could not produce ‘free, fair and credible elections’ while the observers from the Southern Africa Development Community said the election results did not reflect the will of the people.

The UN and humanitarian agencies in Zimbabwe have been unable to effectively carry out their mandate during the election period.

"We exist to serve vulnerable communities who are struggling to cope with entrenched poverty. State support services are incapable and unwilling to meet the demand," said William Anderson, Christian Aid country manager in Harare.

"Yet in the past three months we have been prevented from serving the people and exposing the scandal of poverty. The fear factor has paralysed the nation and very few have been bold enough to experience, witness and publicly reveal the barbaric and anarchic violence that young men in the employ of ZANU-PF have meted out on their fellow citizens."

For development to be successful in its fight against poverty there must be good governance; health and education services must also be fully functioning and available to the majority, say campaigners. None of these exist in Zimbabwe. Mr Anderson says this makes Christian Aid’s work in the country even more vital.

"We are in a unique position as we are the only international NGO with an office in the country which is outspoken on the issues of justice and oppression. Our policy, which promotes accountable governance, supports strategic partners who literally put their lives on the line to work for a democratic, peaceful and free country."

Christian Aid also supports communal and chronically poor communal households by training and empowering them in conservation agriculture. Through increased knowledge families can easily treble their harvests by simply scratching out planting holes rather than ploughing, and placing compost or mulch on the bare soil.

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