In a 24 July letter, leaders of the WCC, the World Student ChristianÂ Federation, WARC, the World Alliance of YWCAs and the World Alliance ofÂ YMCAs congratulated both Zimbabwe’s former ruling Zanu-PF party and theÂ Movement for Democratic Change, which now holds the majority of seats inÂ the country’s parliament, for signing a memorandum of understanding on 21Â July that commits the two sides to more talks.
“We greet the beginning of this critical round of negotiations withÂ fervent hope for a new beginning for all Zimbabweans, restoration ofÂ peace, prosperity, dignity and the rule of law,” the church groups said in
their joint letter.
Senior negotiators from Zimbabwe’s MDC and Zanu-PF began talks on 24 JulyÂ in the South African capital of Pretoria.The church leaders’ letter reminds the secular parties of the concern ofÂ churches, civil society and the people of Zimbabwe for a lasting andÂ viable solution to the crisis in the southern African country. “We prayÂ for all the negotiators so that they are guided by the best interests andÂ deeper aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.”
The letter also states that violence and human rights abuses continue inÂ Zimbabwe, and that millions face starvation, whilst thousands have lostÂ homes and property.”We are appalled by reports of continuing violence in many parts of theÂ country, particularly in the rural areas. All forms of violence,harassment, intimidation and torture must cease immediately in order toÂ provide an environment truly conducive for peaceful negotiations,” theÂ church leaders wrote.
The church groups also called for a lifting of the ban that has preventedÂ humanitarian aid agencies and non-governmental organizations from workingÂ in the country.”We further urge the parties to remain committed to a genuine restorationÂ of the rule of law that rejects impunity but allows true reconciliation
and healing.,” the letter said.
The message from the Christian groups also states that it is “mostÂ regrettable” that none of the negotiating parties includes civil societyÂ or women, as Zimbabwean civil society representatives have called for soÂ that the hopes of grassroots communities would not go unheard.
The church groups also urge the MDC and Zanu-PF to restore faith inÂ Zimbabwe’s electoral system: “We would like to reaffirm the need toÂ protect the integrity of elections as the most legitimate and democratic
way to express the sovereign will of the people, not only in Zimbabwe butÂ throughout Africa.”
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