Global church groups say cosmetic change in Zimbabwe is not enough

By agency reporter
15 Nov 2008

Six global church organizations have called for an effective protection of the right to life, dignity and democracy of the people of Zimbabwe and criticized the stance of the Southern African Development Community on the political deadlock in the country.

Jointly issued on 14 November by the general secretaries of the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the World YWCA, the World Student Christian Federation and the World Alliance of YMCAs, the statement calls "for an urgent affirmation and protection of the right to life and dignity for all Zimbabweans," as well as "for adherence to democratic principles and processes in the mediation process and a return of the rule of law inside Zimbabwe".

On 9 November 2008 the Southern African Development Community (SADC) organized a summit of Southern African heads of state to help the two Zimbabwean parties - President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - to reach a power deal.

"We are deeply disappointed and saddened that the SADC leadership and Zimbabwe's political leaders have once again squandered an opportunity to take decisive, credible and transformative action" regarding the crisis in the country, the statement says. "By failing to fully address the growing humanitarian catastrophe and question of illegitimacy of the current government, SADC leaders have let down the people of Zimbabwe."

The ecumenical organizations have called for the inclusion of civil society and churches in future talks sponsored by the SADC and the African Union. They have also called "on the United Nations, the European Union and especially the President-elect of the United States of America, Barack Obama to mobilize and increase direct humanitarian support for the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe."

Full text of the joint ecumenical statement about Zimbabwe: http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6420

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