Don’t let Zimbabwe become a Rwanda. Lutheran body urges

Published June 28, 2008

Arusha, TanzaniaThe result of any presidential runoff election in Zimbabwe conducted under the current circumstances should not be recognised by the international community, the main governing body of the Lutheran World Federation has said.The Council of the Lutheran World Federation, meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, said on the eve of the presidential runoff election in Zimbabwe on June 27: “The international community has a legitimate interest and role to play in addressing the crisis in Zimbabwe. The world must not stand idly by, as it did during the genocide in Rwanda, and watch the unfolding of a human catastrophe.”An estimated 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda in 1994 when members of the country’s majority Hutu tribe slaughtered minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.Media reports indicated that voting had been slow on polling day in the election in which Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has become the sole candidate. His opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, had pulled out of the election, citing escalating violence against his supporters.Militias loyal to Mr. Mugabe were reported to be going door-to-door on election day in townships near Harare, the capital, forcing people to vote.The LWF called on all its churches to pray on Sunday July 6 for peace with justice for all Zimbabweans.The Lutheran council had called a special meeting on the night of June 26 and issued a public statement calling for “an immediate end to political violence and repression in Zimbabwe, and the restoration of the democracy for which so many Zimbabweans have struggled and died.”The 68-million federation, which has a relatively small number of members in Zimbabwe, said it had for some time been “gravely concerned by the disastrous economic, humanitarian and political situation in Zimbabwe”It said, “Today, we join former South African President Nelson Mandela in declaring that there has been a ‘tragic failure of leadership’ in Zimbabwe. Indeed, the policies and practices of the current government have undermined the most basic political, economic and social rights of Zimbabweans.The Lutheran body holds meetings of its main governing body about every 18 months to discuss policy and administrative issues affecting its churches. It noted; “All governments have a responsibility to ensure the safety, security and welfare of their citizens. Therefore, the government of Zimbabwe must act to prevent political violence by whoever committed it. Its failure to do so, and its apparent complicity in the violent repression, calls into question this government’s legitimacy.”In a speech earlier in the day the general secretary of the LWF, Rev. Ishmael Noko, a Zimbabwean theologian, said that having lost the election in the first round on 29 March the ruling party of President Robert Mugabe “now intends to make the country ungovernable.”Mr. Noko said, “The political disaster in Zimbabwe cannot be attributed to anyone but the leadership there.”The governing body of the Lutheran World Federation called for the “urgent establishment of a process for building peace in Zimbabwe in which all national actors, regional organizations and the international community are engaged” and said it was prepared to support the country’s people in rebuilding their nation”.


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