Zimbabwe: Prelate Calls for Fresh Polls Minus Mugabe

Johannesburg - President Robert Mugabe should retire and fresh elections be held to save the southern African nation, a Catholic archbishop in the region has said.

In his opening address to the January plenary of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg also said that South Africa, the region’s economic and political power, had failed dismally as a mediator in trying to broker peace and a government of national unity in Zimbabwe.

"President Mugabe ought to be persuaded to retire. He has done his country incalculable harm. SADC (Southern African Development Community) too has failed to offer a strong leadership in the resolution of the Zimbabwean disaster – it is no longer just a crisis. We call for fresh elections without Mugabe."

Meanwhile, the National Church Leaders Consultation met in Stellenbosch near Cape Town and called for the intervention of the African Union and the appointment of a new facilitator of the talks in Zimbabwe. "Zimbabwe has collapsed. Former President Thabo Mbeki is compromised and no longer suitable for the mediation process," the group said.

The group of more than 30 church leaders includes Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Dutch Reformed, Lutheran and Rhema officials. They issued their statement on Tuesday.

"We believe that Robert Mugabe is holding on to illegitimate power. The people of Zimbabwe spoke on March 31, 2008 by electing a new leadership; we therefore call upon Mugabe to resign in order to give democracy a new chance." – Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

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