A YEAR after it refused to denounce Robert Mugabe’s regime, the Church of
Scotland has finally expressed outrage at events in Zimbabwe.
Last year the General Assembly said that to attack the dictator would
endanger the lives of Christians living there.
Yesterday, with the encouragement of churches in Zimbabwe, the Kirk
“vehemently condemned” Mr Mugabe’s rule and called on the Brit
ish government to act with urgency to bring the regime to a peaceful end.
The Rev Colin Renwick, convener of the Kirk’s World Mission Council, which
deals with international policy, said members could no longer keep silent
over a situation he described as “heartrending”.
“We have been circumspect in statements in the past, recognising the danger
that careless words might pose, even from this distance, and heeding the
caution of Christians in Zimbabwe itself,” he said. “However, now is the
time to take up the challenge they have issued.”
World Mission’s report “vehemently condemned” the violence perpetrated by
the Mugabe regime on its people after last month’s presidential elections.
The assembly voted unanimously to “express outrage and urgent concern in
regard to the extreme privation and suffering being inflicted on the people
of Zimbabwe; and encourage all who work for justice, peace and
reconciliation in that beautiful country.”
It called on the British government to work to bring a swift end to the
“violence and intimidation being endured in many parts of the country”.
Mr Renwick read out a warning from the Zimbabwean Council of Churches, which
has rarely spoken out against the regime for fear of violent backlash.
It said: “We warn the world that if nothing is done to help the people of
Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide
similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda and other hot spots in Africa
The Rt Rev William Pool, moderator of the United Presbyterian Church in
South Africa, read out a letter from two ministers in Zimbabwe, describing
the persecution church members had faced. He said children who were members
of Zanu PF had arrived for services bleeding, having been beaten for asking
permission to go to church, while whole congregations were being ordered not
to attend services and to go to government rallies instead.
Concluding the debate, Deputy Moderator Sheilagh Kesting led the assembly in
a prayer, saying: “We have heard the cries of those who suffer in Zimbabwe.
We have been moved, we are outraged and we desperately want to do something
The ScotsmanPost published in: News