IMBISA Position Paper to President Mugabe

IMBISA

POSITION PAPER OF THE IMBISA BISHOPS FOR THE MEETING WITH HIS EXCELLENCY STATE PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE

We the Bishops of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa, representing nine countries (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Sao Tome e Principe, South Africa , Swaziland and Zimbabwe) are happy to meet His Excellency, President RG Mugabe, as we have done twice before in the  Plenary Assemblies  of 2001 and 2004 .

We are happy to see the Zimbabwean people and the Government of National Unity  coming together in giving their country a new and home-grown Constitution. We acknowledge the progress made by the Government of National Unity in creating a greater sense of optimism and hope among Zimbabweans and their efforts to stabilise the economy.

The Church supports the building of a free and democratic State with a Constitution based on human dignity, human rights and duties. The Church is not partisan, we strive for  justice  and the common good for all the people of the country. Peaceful elections, free of violence and intimidation, are an essential part of building the nation. We act in solidarity with all the people of Zimbabwe, and other countries in the region, also facing elections soon. IMBISA wishes to contribute to peaceful elections by volunteering as election observers in  cooperation with the relevant independent election commission.

We commend His Excellency on taking a stand against political violence. Young people must no longer be abused by certain political leaders as tools of oppression. Parties across the board should get together and agree on a non-violent election process, in line with the Constitution which is about to be put to the people in a referendum. The Church is ready to cooperate with other concerned citizens in stopping intimidation of voters. Peace and stability in Zimbabwe will make for peace and stability in the SADC region.

We also ask the Government of National Unity to ensure equal access to the communication media during election time. A healthy nation needs free and open debate of their concerns.

The GNU feels strongly that sanctions are harmful and should be lifted. We are confident that with the recognition of human rights in the new Constitution and their practical application, especially by government agents, sanctions will fall away.

We would like to thank His Excellency for giving us of his precious time for this encounter. Let us conclude by wishing His Excellency a Happy Birthday.

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