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Transcript of interview with Andrew Marr on 16 September 2007

Sunday 16th September 2007

On Sunday 16 September 2007, Andrew Marr interviewed Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York on BBC1's Sunday AM Programme.





ANDREW MARR:
The Archbishop, Doctor John Sentamu is here. Archbishop welcome.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
Thank you Andrew.

ANDREW MARR:
Apart obviously from Mr Mugabe who is responsible for this? Who should we be pointing the finger at?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
I think it is Mugabe because he inherited a very, very rich country and now it's running at about eight thousand per cent inflation. There is starvation and the medical services have nearly collapsed, except for the very rich up in the northern part of Harare. And he took on a fantastic place, very much like Idi Amin. He took on a beautiful Uganda with good education, good health, good roads, good infrastructure, and he ruined it. And it really takes generations to recover. So he's responsible. But I also want to think that the international community has been to coalescent in really putting pressure on Mugabe. The African Union has been promising that they'd provide an African solution but actually they haven't succeeded in doing this.

ANDREW MARR:
What about South Africa?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
I think South Africa in many ways people have looked to it as a livery because the economic relationship between Zimbabwe and South Africa is very close. And we know looking towards Thabo Mbeki to do it but actually he hasn't put the pressure. He now has got three million refugees from Zimbabwe in South Africa. Some of them are professionals – teachers, doctors, nurses – and in fact they're helping that economy. But what they've left behind is a devastated nation. And I believe that something needs to be done. You know what surprises me, you see the President of Uganda and I, you know, in our young days, were at a Christian Union Conference, the day you know Mr Ian Smith declared UDI and he's protested and actually left the conference because he thought we should all protest. So I want to remind my good friend, Yoweri Museveni that you did not protest to end up with a country in chaos in Zimbabwe. It is high time he and our own prime minister and all those other people to begin, really get a better United Nation resolutions and simply say enough is enough.

ANDREW MARR:
So what should Gordon Brown do? Have you had any dealings with him, discussed this?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
Yes. I spoke to the Prime Minister last night and in fact he said that I should say that I have spoken to him. He is concerned. He saw your report which again I must say that Sue Lloyd Roberts has done the international world a lot of good by her report which is very brave and very courageous. So I'm hoping that this coming week the Prime Minister is going to make some response. And he says part of the trouble has been whenever the international community has wanted to do something the African Union have said "We will give it an African solution" but I don't think they're going to do it, just as I don't think they've been successful in Darfur really.

ANDREW MARR:
So if the time for an African solution is passed what should Gordon Brown and other western leaders now be doing?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
I think what he should do is get a coalition of the international community to get sanctions. You see sanctions were passed against the then Ian Smith, they were passed against Apartheid in South Africa. And people were always saying "Oh but it will hurt the poor and ." but they didn't. Those who've got a lot of money survive but the poor really end up being very poor. So I think a very robust United Nation resolution, things like boycotting sport activity with Zimbabwe, reducing the number of their sort of embassy staff all over the world because you see those embassies become places which are conduits for some of the money to be taken out of the country.

ANDREW MARR:
The elite can use them as refuges?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
Elite can use them as refuges. They can actually deposit huge sums of money outside of Zimbabwe. They can get goods through the diplomatic bag into Zimbabwe. Really the country will come to its many senses if the elite and those who support Mugabe actually were not longer having that access.

ANDREW MARR:
So you're talking really about a full economic boycott until Mugabe is toppled?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
Absolutely. I mean

ANDREW MARR:
Because things couldn't get any worse?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
They can't get any worse. I mean he's really, he's got, either he's got to realise that his time is up and that actually he's ruining the country and somebody else should take over or really the international community have got to make sanctions work and actually they can make them stick. Because that country is so wealthy, it's the bread basket of that region. And what's happening to it? People are starving.

ANDREW MARR:
I mean there has been a natural recoil I suppose in countries like Britain from taking this kind of action, partly for fear that it looks like a return of white colonialism which is of course what Robert Mugabe keeps describing.

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
Oh he's been, he has been mastering at it with African Union. Every time he says "My trouble is not with my people and the country, is with Britain because they didn't sort out the land reform, because they didn't promise everything else". He's been good at it. But I'm afraid he really has been telling an untruth. A lot of farms were actually illegally acquired. He's changed the way the law actually applies. And the time has actually come for people to get rid of their guilt and see the suffering in Zimbabwe. It is an international problem and we've got to give it an international solution.

ANDREW MARR:
Archbishop one of the stories we were talking about was the Madeline McCann story - a lot of stuff still coming out from the Portuguese police. What's your take on this?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
I think that my take really is three things. Firstly the body of Madeleine McCann has not been discovered. In so far as I am concerned she is still a missing person and until a body is discovered we should say she is a missing girl who has not been found. Secondly the evidence which is coming out all the time, arriving piecemeal, saying things like she must have been accidentally killed by the mother – well the only way to prove that is by post mortem examination and eyewitness. The third suggestion that she took an overdose of sleeping tablets, again you need a body to examine this to find out if it's true. The suggestion that she must have been thrown overboard from a yacht again you need eyewitnesses. The other thing that I find most extraordinary is the possibility that the parents hid the body for over 25 days in the apartment where they stayed, when actually the police did examine that particular flat, and then they put the body in a car or maybe buried it is just extraordinary. I want to say that Kate and Gerry have been treated unjustly and inhumanly because the evidence does not stack up at all.

ANDREW MARR:
And you have been in touch with them?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
Yes I have been in touch with the parents and they are very grateful for the millions and millions of people who have supported them and certainly their faith has sustained them. But there is the great injustice that they feel is upon them when the attention should be on trying to find Madeleine. I am still praying and hoping that she still is alive. If there is anyone out there who knows where she is I would urge them to please get in touch with me.

ANDREW MARR:
And the press, the media coverage generally was very supportive to start with and bits of the media are now turning on them?

DR JOHN SENTAMU:
I find it extraordinary because it is all gossip. The thing that worries me is when people begin to say sources close to the investigation. Who are these people close? The Portuguese police are not allowed by nature to give anything of this so I find myself wondering if the media is to try these people by writing all kinds of innuendos. We know that the principle of innocent until proven guilty is paramount. Can you imagine as a mother or father of the child you immediately feel this pressure – are they actually going to find the body – produce the body.

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