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Zimbabwe crisis is a ‘slow genocide’ says South African bishop

World News

A South African bishop who came to prominence fighting apartheid has called Zimbabwe’s crisis a slow genocide. He was speaking during the launch by a civil society grouping of a campaign to highlight the "immoral" role played by South African government in supporting Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.

Bishop Paul Verryn, of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, which is housing hundreds of Zimbabwean refugees, said on 8 January, "We are witnessing a slow genocide in Zimbabwe."

Verryn spoke at a media briefing on an undercover mission in December to Zimbabwe by members of Civicus, an international alliance of non-governmental organizations. They announced they would send a DVD "video letter" entitled "Time2Act" to leaders of Zimbabwe’s neighbouring countries.

The bishop’s words were echoed in the DVD by activist Nolwandle of Women of Zimbabwe Arise. "Inch by inch, Zimbabweans are perishing," said the woman who did not want her full name mentioned. "By this time next year Zimbabwe’s population will be 10 percent less."

Zimbabwe’s population, estimated at about 11 million, is being decimated by HIV and AIDS as well as hunger, cholera and diseases that remain untreated while the country’s administration ceases to function following an economic collapse and food shortages. These were triggered after the confiscation of land from about 4000 mainly-white commercial farmers from 2000. Some three million Zimbabweans are now believed to be living in South Africa.

"We have failed Zimbabwe. I felt a sense of shame," said Kumi Naidoo, president of Civicus, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, at the briefing.

South Africa has purposefully been protecting the regime in Zimbabwe, said Christian Alliance activist Gordon Moyo in the video. It includes Kacaca Fulu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, saying South African leaders, "by implication become perpetrators of gross human rights violations by abstaining from taking the right moral course".

In a letter to Civicus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, said deaths in Zimbabwe by starvation, disease and apathy "are no less deliberate than those perpetuated with arms".

The Civicus statement referred to the role played by the 15-nation Southern African Development Community. It said, "The team discovered a pervasive feeling that SADC and the South African government have not done enough to pressure the ‘government’ in Zimbabwe to restore democracy."

Civicus said on 9 January it would hand the letter to African leaders, including the current SADC chairperson, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, as well as the president of South Africa’s ruling ANC, Jacob Zuma. It said it was also preparing a civil campaign to create awareness of African leaders’ neglect in dealing with "Mugabe’s atrocities". [

(c) Ecumenical News International

Photo : World News