Williams explains church’s failure to help Zimbabwe

By on July 3, 2007

London
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has spoken publicly about his failed attempts to use Anglican community resources in southern Africa to send food to starving Zimbabweans.  

At a meeting held at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, he was asked why Anglican church funds were not used to fill trucks with food and send them across Beit Bridge from South Africa to Bulawayo in southern Zimbabwe where people are starving.   

Archbishop Williams surprised those attending the May 1 meeting in London by saying that four years ago he held discussions with South Africa Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town about the best approach to help Zimbabwe.  

A year ago, Archbishop Williams again held talks with central and southern African Anglicans – a meeting that did not include the bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, a staunch ally of Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe. Again, he asked what sort of intervention from outside could be useful.   

Archbishop Williams said: “The message I had from them was any intervention under the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury would instantly be branded in Zimbabwe as the British government by another name.”   

The Anglican leader noted: “Some five weeks ago I met the bishop of Harare directly to ask him whether he would contemplate not only rediscovering his soul, so to speak, in relation to the Mugabe government, but whether he would contemplate an arrangement which we would willingly broker with the World Food Programme administered through the Anglican church in Zimbabwe. The answer was ‘No!'”

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