On the eve of the scheduled presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe on June 27, the Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has called for the urgent establishment of a peace building process in the country, incorporating all national actors, regional organizations and the international community.
In a June 26 Public Statement, the Council urged the international community to exercise its legitimate role in addressing the crisis in the country.
“The world must not stand idly by, as it did during the genocide in Rwanda, and watch the unfolding of a human catastrophe,” stated the Council. The LWF governing body is meeting June 25-30 in Arusha, northern Tanzania, hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.
The Council pointed out that the result of any presidential run-off election conducted under the current circumstances should not be recognized by the international community.
It especially denounced the systematic, organized, politically-motivated intimidation and violence whereby the current government has sought to retain power.
The LWF Council members said attacks on Zimbabweans for exercising their right of democratic choice were directly contrary to the purpose of the country’s struggle for liberation from colonial rule.
They noted that the conditions under which the March 29 first round of elections were conducted were far from ideal and had already demonstrated that the current government had lost the trust and support of Zimbabweans.
The Council members especially welcomed the rising expression of concern from African political, religious and community leaders. They however called on the Southern African Development Community, African Union, and all African leaders, to take a more active role in promoting human security in Zimbabwe and encouraging a political transition back to the democracy.
The LWF governing body called upon all LWF member churches to pray on Sunday, July 6 for peace with justice for all Zimbabweans.
The full text of the Council’s Public Statement on Zimbabwe follows:
LWF Council Public Statement on Zimbabwe
1. The Council of the Lutheran World Federation, meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, on the eve of the scheduled presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe on June 27, calls for an immediate end to political violence and repression in that country, and the restoration of the democracy for which so many Zimbabweans have struggled and died.
2. The Lutheran World Federation has long been gravely concerned by the disastrous economic, humanitarian and political situation in Zimbabwe. Today, we join former South African President Nelson Mandela in declaring that there has been a “tragic failure of leadership” in Zimbabwe. Indeed, the policies and practices of the current government have undermined the most basic political, economic and social rights of Zimbabweans.
3. We especially denounce the systematic, organized, politically-motivated intimidation and violence whereby the current government has sought to retain power. We note that the perpetrators of that intimidation and violence have not hesitated to target church leaders and clergy, as well as opposition party leaders and members, media representatives, academics, specific groups within Zimbabwean society, and anyone thought to have voted for the opposition in the March 29 elections. The attacks on Zimbabweans for exercising their right of democratic choice are directly contrary to the purpose of the struggle for Zimbabwe’s liberation from colonial rule.
4. All governments have a responsibility to ensure the safety, security and welfare of their citizens. Therefore, the government of Zimbabwe must act to prevent political violence by whoever committed it. Its failure to do so, and its apparent complicity in the violent repression, calls into question this government’s legitimacy.
5. The outcome of the March elections – themselves conducted in far from ideal conditions – has already demonstrated that this government has lost the trust and support of Zimbabweans. The result of any presidential run-off election conducted under the current circumstances should not be recognized by the international community. We deeply regret the government of Zimbabwe to postpone the election and to take effective measures to ensure minimum conditions for a free and fair democratic process.
6. The international community has a legitimate interest and role to play in addressing the crisis in Zimbabwe. The world must not stand idly by, as it did during the genocide in Rwanda, and watch the unfolding of a human catastrophe. We welcome the fact that the United Nations Security Council has finally begun to address this matter by issuing a statement.
7. We especially welcome the rising chorus of concern from African political, religious and community leaders. We call on the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, and all African leaders, to take a more active role in promoting human security in Zimbabwe and encouraging a political transition back to the democracy that Zimbabweans have a right to expect.
8. Therefore, we call for the urgent establishment of a process for building peace in Zimbabwe in which all national actors, regional organizations and the international community are engaged.
9. For its part, the Lutheran World Federation stands ready to support the people of Zimbabwe in rebuilding their nation, and in restoring their betrayed hopes of a life in dignity and justice.
10. We call upon all LWF member churches to pray on Sunday, July 6 for peace with justice for all Zimbabweans.
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There are around 170 participants in this year’s Council meeting including church leaders, officials from LWF partner organizations, invited guests, stewards, interpreters and translators, LWF staff and co-opted staff and accredited media.
The Council is the LWF’s governing body meeting between Assemblies held every six years. The current Council was appointed at the July 2003 Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada. It comprises the President, Treasurer and 48 persons elected by the Assembly. Other members include advisors, lay and ordained persons, representing the different LWF regions.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
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