Churches Express Strong Opposition To 'Food Policy'

Jan 29, 2003 01:54 PM EST

HARARE -- Zimbabwean church leaders are opposed to President Robert Mugabe's food distribution programme.

In series of statements released here over last month, Bulawayo church leaders, churches in Macicaland and Harare, pastors and clergy expressed concern over the government's partisan attitude in distributing food to starving Zimbabweans.

The reactions followed Archbishop Pius Ncube's outburst last November, when he spoken out against politicised food and land distribution by Mugabe's government. Archbishop Ncube is the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo.

The churches condemned the government for being partisan in distributing food supplies to the needy. They said they would not tolerate the government's discrimination in the distribution of food.

The clergy criticised the government's orchestrated campaigns of violence, intimidation and torture, that added to the already suffering people.

They called upon the government to repent and change its attitude, saying "hi-jacking food supplies, hindering the work of NGO' and other concerned bodies in feeding the hungry only increased the suffering of the people".

The church leaders from various faiths including Catholics, Anglican,Methodists and Evangelicals, in show of 'Christian Solidarity', said the situation they were facing on the ground was extremely serious and demanded urgent resolution as famine stalked the land.

They accused President Mugabe for being responsible for frustrating efforts by churches and NGOs to provide help.

"Efforts of churches, NGOs and other concerned bodies to feed the hungry are greatly undermined in many areas by a callous and deliberate policy of rewarding or punishing voters according to their political affiliation," said one statement.

The church leaders noted with concern that the Zimbabwe national crisis had continued to deteriorate and that future peace and prosperity were at stake.

They also condemned government institutions like the public media, who were being used to promote hatred and violence in favour of Zimbabwe ruling party supporters.

One of the statements said the youth were being trained to embrace brutality and violence.

They called upon the immediate closure of such training programmes in the country, and the halting of all politically motivated violence.

By Herman Kasili