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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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And previously.....

Archbishop calls for country to pray, march and protest against Mugabe

In 2010...

The Archbishop  called for individuals to join him in prayer on the International Prayer Day for Zimbabwe held on 26 September 2010.

Dr Sentamu said: "We must pray for the transformation of Zimbabwe – from poverty, hunger and dependency to a nation which can feed and farm for itself. I join thousands of people across Zimbabwe today in prayer for that transformation"

The majority of Zimbabweans still make their living through subsistence farming. In order to tackle the problem of hunger in the long term local communities need to be empowered to grow enough food for themselves again through farming inputs and training in more effective farming methods.

Prayer gatherings across Zimbabwe have been organised by Trumpet Call for Transformation, a partnership between the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Foundations for Farming.

The Archbishop of York has previously urged the international community to bring about restoration to Zimbabwe, in support of those suffering in Zimbabwe, and has not worn his clerical collar since December 2007.


 In 2009 ...

Since the Archbishop launched a joint appeal for Zimbabwe with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the five Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe have been implementing relief and development programmes in local communities across the country. 

Through the Archbishops' Appeal the Church has been running supplementary feeding through its church run community schools. In addition to meeting the immediate problem of hunger in local communities; providing free school meals helps to keep children in school with enough energy to learn, as well as reducing the risk of teachers striking under the pressure of low wages.

The majority of Zimbabweans still make their living through subsistence farming. In order to tackle the problem of hunger in the long term local communities need to be empowered to grow enough food for themselves again through farming inputs and training in more effective farming methods. In response to this the Anglican dioceses have been distributing seed to local households ready for the planting season this autumn. They have also been running a programme called Farming God's Way. The programme teaches new and highly successful conservation farming methods alongside biblical rationale for better stewardship of God's creation. By training Priests and Mothers' Union members in each diocese to be trainers in local communities, the church is getting the message and skills of sustainable farming to the people that need it most.

This September representatives from Lambeth Palace and USPG (who are working in partnership with the Archbishops for this appeal) travelled to Zimbabwe to see the progress of this work. Over the coming months the film, interviews and photos from this visit will be turned into resources for the thousands of people who generously gave to the Archbishops' Appeal, and without whom none of this work would have been possible.

In February 2009, the Primates of the Anglican Communion unanimously called for a concerted initiative of aid and support for the Church's community work in Zimbabwe. The Archbishop has said that: "The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is now at an appalling level. It's estimated that perhaps half the population is now under threat of starvation; and the deaths from cholera and ill health continue to rise. The Church remains a trusted deliverer of aid at grass roots level, capable of getting food and medical supplies to those who need them, and we urge everyone, inside and outside the Christian Church, to give it their strong support. And for Christian believers, we want to repeat the Primates' call for prayer and fasting especially on Ash Wednesday – accepting our responsibility to stand alongside all who are suffering in Zimbabwe.

The Archbishop spent Ash Wednesday in prayer at St. Helen's Church in St. Helen's Square in the centre of York.


In 2008 ...

In December 2008, the Archbishop urged the international community to bring Robert Mugabe and his closest supporters before The Hague to stand trial for their crimes against the people of Zimbabwe: "The time has come for Mugabe to answer for his crimes against humanity, against his countrymen and women and for justice to be done. The winds of change that once brought hope to Zimbabwe and its neighbours have become a hurricane of destruction with the outbreak of cholera, destitution, starvation and systemic abuse of power by the state. As a country cries out for justice, we can no longer be inactive to their call. Mugabe and his henchmen must now take their rightful place in the Hague and answer for their actions. The time to remove them from power has come."

In July 2008, the Archbishop called for a new civil rights movement in Britain to bring about the restoration of Zimbabwe at a special rally service held at St Margaret's Church, Westminster.

At the Zimbabwe rally, Dr. Sentamu said: "I am inviting people to work with me for the restoration of Zimbabwe. Restoration will require prayer, money and support. I am asking people to commit to offering what they can in any and all of these categories."

Writing in The Sunday Times, the Archbishop stated that 'Britain must ensure no Zimbabwean is destitute on our streets, it must provide them with dignity until they can return home. Jesus never called the Samaritan "good", that was just what he became known as later. But now is the time for Britain to become a good Samaritan to the people of Zimbabwe. For anyone who is in need is my neighbour.'

In June 2008, Dr Sentamu pleaded for the Government to close the British High Commission in Harare as part of tougher sanctions against the Zimbabwean government and for the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, to intervene directly.

The Archbishop said South Africa should remember global pressure forced a change in the system which had previously governed their lives. A transcript of the interview is available here.

In April 2008, the Archbishop urged that the public join him for day of fasting and prayer in York Minster for Zimbabwe. The Archbishop's action followed his joint statement released with the Archbishop of Canterbury, calling for "a civil society movement that both gives voice to those who demand an end to the mayhem that grows out of injustice, poverty, exclusion and violence. The Archbishop said: "As a Christian community we must all stand together with our brothers and sisters living under the tyranny Mugabe and pray that they will find deliverance."


In 2007 ...

In December 2007, Dr Sentamu said speaking in a dramatic interview on BBC1's Sunday AM programme, removed his clerical collar and cut it up into pieces live on air saying that President Mugabe had "taken people's identity and cut it to pieces" prompting the Archbishop to do the same.

The Archbishop also chastised African leaders at the Africa-EU summit for their support of Mr. Mugabe whist the people of the country continued to suffer. The transcript of the Archbishops interview is available and the interview with Andrew Marr can be watched again.

The plight of Zimbabweans came to the fore as the economic crisis escalated, with spiralling inflation resulting in chronic food shortages and a deepening refugee crisis. Writing in the Observer newspaper in December 2007, the Archbishop said that "Britain needs to escape from its colonialist guilt when it comes to Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the worst kind of racist dictator. Having targeted the whites for their apparent riches, Mugabe has enacted an awful Orwellian vision, with the once oppressed taking on the role of the oppressor and glorifying in their totalitarian abilities."