SOUTH African churchmen have blasted Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders for failing to condemn President Robert Mugabe’s abuse of power through violation of human rights as we
ll as democratic principles.
The Solidarity Peace Trust, a grouping of clergy in the Sadc region, sent a delegation to Zimbabwe in August and September last year to assess the political and economic situation. They compiled a report released last month.
In the report’s foreword, Bishop Kevin Dowling, a trustee of the grouping, described the position of Sadc leaders regarding the Zimbabwe crisis as shameful.
“This report from priests and pastors is both tragic and at the same time instructive for those who have ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’,” the bishop wrote. “This quest of ours faces formidable obstacles, above all the obfuscation and manipulation of the reality of the Zimbabwe regime supported by an African leadership, particularly in the Sadc region, which is nothing short of shameful.”
Not only has the Zanu PF government violated terms of the UN Charter but has also tried to use as smokescreens the land issue, sovereignty and Western imperialism in the violation of human rights, the report notes.
“It belongs to the church and faith communities especially but not only in the Sadc region to raise its prophetic voice in the name of those who have been tortured, killed, raped and denied basic human rights in Zimbabwe by a regime which callously disregards its fundamental duty in terms of the UN Charter.
“What is truly iniquitous is the way the ‘land issue’ and ideological red herrings such as ‘standing up against Western imperialism’ and ‘you are getting engaged in the Zimbabwe question only because white farmers have been affected’ have been used by African political leaders to mask what is the real issue. And that is, that President Mugabe and his government have systematically engaged in human rights abuses of the very worst kind in order to retain political power.
“For African leaders to commit themselves to ‘solidarity’ with President Mugabe and his regime and to turn a blind eye to the suffering of millions of ordinary Zimbabwe citizens, again has nothing to do with the land issue nor standing up against Western imperialism.
When the delegation of South African clergy visited Zimbabwe, they managed to witness first-hand the flawed electoral system being used by Zanu PF to maintain power during the urban council elections in September.
“Several (visiting clergy) witnessed what they considered election irregularities over the urban council elections. Everyone commented on the high level of fear in the general populace. Some had very personal exposure to intimidation,” the report says.