South African archbishop urges dialogue to bring peace in Zimbabwe

March 18, 2003

Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, South Africa, has been urging opposing political forces in Zimbabwe to engage in dialogue in efforts to end the crisis plaguing the nation. 'The country is facing serious humanitarian and political crises, worsened by lack of trust among the politicians,' he said after separate meetings in Harare with President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party.

'But we need them to come to a common ground,' Ndungane added. 'The restoration of political normality, a culture of human rights, hunger relief and political legitimacy are important to bring peace to Zimbabwe.' He reported that Mugabe was still adamant that Britain, the former colonial power, was responsible for the current crisis.

An article in the government-controlled Herald newspaper on March 14 accused Ndungane of being biased against the government and predicted that the mediation mission would flop. 'What does the archbishop mean by the restoration of political normality when we have a perfectly functional multiparty parliament sitting with both ruling and opposition MPs?' it asked. 'What does he meant by a culture of human rights? Is Zimbabwe any different from all other countries that have laws that protect their citizens, laws which are upheld by the police and enforced by the courts?'