ZIMBABWE: Christian alliance wants rule of law, prisoners freed

February 9, 2009

The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance says it hopes the country's proposed government of national unity will see the rule of law established in the country immediately and that it will release all political prisoners.

The grouping that includes Roman Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Evangelicals and Pentecostals said on February 6 it has welcomed "with cautious optimism" the finalization of talks led by the 15-nation Southern African Development Community "which opens the way to ... the formation of a government of national unity."

In its release from Zimbabwe it stated, "We realize that this is not a triumph of African solutions and principles but a reproach because it indicates that the voice of the people as stated democratically through the ballot box in March 2008 has not been recognized or respected.

"It is our sincere hope and prayer, however, that God Almighty will intervene and this transitional arrangement will lead to real democracy and consequently to justice, reconciliation, peace and prosperity to our troubled land. At present the people of Zimbabwe are rather suspicious and anxious. They need confidence-building measures to be put in place to indicate sincerity and the political will to transform the country."

On February 6, a Zimbabwean judge dropped charges of treason against the secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change party, Tendai Biti, who had had faced a possible death sentence after being accused of plotting a coup against President Robert Mugabe.

On the same day in Geneva, the World Health Organization, citing figures from Zimbabwe's health ministry, said that a cholera outbreak in the southern African country has killed 3,371 people and infected 67,945 since it began in August.

The ZCA said it was anxious to see success for the national unity government agreement hammered out in Pretoria.

"The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough," said the Christian grouping. "We would, therefore, like to see a number of actions by the inclusive government to prove that they hold the welfare and the interests of the people of Zimbabwe above their own political power."

The alliance's demands included:

  • Establishment of the rule of law in the country immediately and all political prisoners released forthwith
  • Measures be taken to ensure agencies of government are apolitical in their delivery of services
  • That NGO's be free to distribute food and other commodities without interference from government
  • That the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe returns to its original mandate of keeping the resources and distributing them as directed by the government, "instead of meddling in politics and serving partisan interests"
  • That the framework of issues of transitional justice and reconciliation be worked out together with the church to heal the "cancer at the heart of the nation"
  • That the constitutional reform process begins according to the schedule agreed to and that the process will allow all Zimbabweans to contribute meaningfully to the process

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