[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Another Zanu victim: Itai Manyeruki
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Mar 24 13:45:20 GMT 2007
Let's face Mugabe's guns, top cleric urges Zimbabweans
March 23, 2007 Edition 1
HARARE: An outspoken Zimbabwean Catholic archbishop urged his countrymen
to fill the streets to protest against an upsurge in state-orchestrated
violence and vowed he was willing to lead a campaign of peaceful
resistance to force President Robert Mugabe to step down.
Zimbabweans needed to abandon cowardice, Archbishop Pius Ncube told a
gathering of clerics, pro-democracy activists and diplomats, most from
Western countries, in Harare yesterday.
"I am ready to stand in front. We must be ready to stand, even in front
of blazing guns," he said.
"The biggest problem is Zimbabweans are cowards, myself included. We
must get off our comfortable seats and suffer with the people," he said.
Ncube, an ardent critic of Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front party, said that despite two deaths in
political violence since police crushed a prayer meeting in Harare on
March 11, the nation's economic collapse at the hands of its rulers
killed many more impoverished citizens.
Opposition activist Gift Tandare was killed when police fired tear gas,
live ammunition and a water cannon to stop a March 11 prayer meeting
they said was a banned political protest.
Yesterday, the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe, head of a grouping of
church, civic and opposition groups that had organised the prayer
meeting, reported a second death, saying 30-year-old Itai Manyeruki had
died in hospital from injuries suffered on March 11.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, and 46 activists were taken to hospital after the arrest,
beatings and alleged torture by police breaking up the prayer meeting.
The violence prompted a world outcry.
Ncube said that Zimbabwe had entered its eighth year of political and
economic turmoil since Mugabe ordered an often violent land
redistribution programme to seize white-owned commercial farms and hand
them over to landless black people in 2000.
The programme disrupted the agriculture-based economy leading to acute
shortages of food, hard currency, petrol, medicines and other essential
"I fear this is Zimbabwe's demise," Ncube said.
"We have to stand up against this oppression. The time for radicalism is
"If we gather a crowd of 20 000, the government will not use its guns to
kill mothers, sisters and brothers." He said Zimbabweans should be
inspired by faith and by peaceful mass protests that toppled oppressors
elsewhere in the world.
Concern about events in Zimbabwe has been growing in neighbouring countries.
A coalition of Malawian church leaders and human rights activists held a
candlelit vigil and prayers yesterday "to beseech God to intercede in
the deteriorating human rights and political situation" in Zimbabwe. A
similar coalition in Botswana also staged a demonstration to urge both
the government and the Southern African Development Community to take a
tougher line against the brutal clampdown against opposition supporters.
Zimbabwe has come in for international condemnation, but Southern
African leaders, except for Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, have been
muted in their criticism of Mugabe.
Meanwhile, a senior foreign office official in London said Britain was
prepared to help Zimbabwe recover from its economic and political chaos
only if Mugabe's successor committed to reform.
The recent street clashes have brought new attention to the possibility
that Mugabe could be toppled.
Many analysts say his immediate successors are likely to come from
within his own party, rather than the reform-minded opposition. But they
noted that that would present the international community with the
difficult question of whether to work with men and women tainted by
association with Mugabe. - Sapa-AP
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