Botswana Council of Churches Press Release on Zimbabwe

The Botswana Council of Churches shares its concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe as the election approaches on June 27

PRESS STATEMENT

The people of Zimbabwe go to the polls on June 27 to vote in a presidential run-off between President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF and leader of MDC, Mr. Morgan Tsvangerai.

The whole nation of Zimbabwe is at a crossroads as it prepares for what is arguably its most decisive plebiscite since independence. For close to a decade, the international community has stood by and watched Zimbabwe descend into an abyss of chaos, hunger, and political repression.  The suffering of the people of Zimbabwe is a mark of disgrace on our collective conscience, for we failed to heed one of the most important teachings of all religions that, indeed, we are our brother's keeper.

The people of Zimbabwe go to the polls in a climate of unacceptable political violence that is marked by intimidation, wanton detentions of MDC activists, and other forms of harassment of the opposition by both the State apparatus and the youth militia. This is accompanied by inflammatory rhetoric and propaganda that borders on treason by President Mugabe and senior members of ZANU-PF. The opposition is also denied access to the national State-funded media. This may be construed as a deliberate and well-calculated ploy to tilt the scales in favour of President Mugabe, which is in stark contrast to the values and principles of SADC.

The world has to take serious note of statements from President Mugabe, the First Lady, as well as other senior officials of the ZANU-PF party that they will not accept any other outcome, except victory for ZANU-PF's candidate. This is ominous, and it pollutes the requisite environment that would ensure free and fair elections. Such statements could make people doubt the wisdom of partaking in an election whose outcome will not be respected, anyway.

Elsewhere in the region, it has been suggested that since the climate in Zimbabwe cannot allow a free and fair election, the run-off should be called off, and that a Government of National Unity be negotiated between ZANU-PF and MDC. While it is true that the political climate is not conducive for a free and fair election, to call off the run-off would be further betrayal of the long suffering people of Zimbabwe.

Let the people of Zimbabwe decide who should be their leader, as it happens all over the civilised world. Their choice must be respected for the voice of the people is sacrosanct.

At this difficult time in their history, we call upon the people of Zimbabwe to stand together and take their destiny in their own hands and boldly face the future. We encourage all citizens of Zimbabwe, including those who have fled to neighbouring countries, to go back home and vote. 

The international community should stand up to ensure that this election is not stolen, and that the will of the people is respected. The Government of Zimbabwe must, without let or hindrance, allow access for all international observers who are interested in observing this election, and not only those who are deemed to be ZANU-PF's friends.

As the Church, given the human suffering of the people of Zimbabwe we are witnesses to in Botswana and other neighbouring countries, we commend Zimbabwe and its people as the coming election to the keep and care of the Omnipotent God. Our prayers and thoughts are with the people of Zimbabwe at this trying time.

Peace and blessings from the Almighty, from whom all blessings flow.

Rev. Mpho Moruakgomo

President, Botswana Council of Churches