The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have condemned the resurgence of police intimidation of Anglicans in Zimbabwe.
'We condemn unequivocally any move to deny people their basic right to worship. To prevent people from worshipping in their churches on Christmas Day - unable to receive the church's message of hope - is a further blow to civil liberties in Zimbabwe. Such unprovoked intimidation of worshippers by the police is completely unacceptable and indicative of the continued and persistent oppression by state instruments of those perceived to be in opposition. We stand in support of the dioceses of Harare and Manicaland under The Church of the Province of Central Africa in this regard. For many people in Zimbabwe, ground down by unceasing unemployment and lack of basic services, the church is their only lifeline.'
Supported by a financial appeal for Zimbabwe headed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Anglican dioceses are involved in extensive relief and development programmes, working successfully with local government to serve all in their communities, regardless of religion or political affiliation. Anglicans are playing a key role at all levels of society, working with government and community organisations to rebuild Zimbabwe. However following the excommunication of two Anglican bishops closely aligned to the ruling party, local churches have been subjected to targeted disruption of services, weddings and some community outreach work, in blatant contravention of court rulings in their favour.
In his foreword to Ben Freeth’s forthcoming book, ‘Mugabe and the White African’ the Archbishop writes:
‘It is time 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 resulting in a health crisis, destitution, starvation and the systematic abuse of power by the state. As the 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. They must be removed from power so that democracy and the rule of law can be restored. As an Anglican, I am deeply concerned about the welfare of Anglican bishops, clergy, and laity in the Dioceses of Harare and Manicaland. Week by week they are experiencing horrific violence and intimidation. Their courage, like the courage of Ben Freeth and his family, is a remarkable witness to the grace of God in Christ. As a Christian community, we must all stand together with our brothers and sisters living under the tyranny of Mugabe and pray they will find deliverance. If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and human rights abuses has the courage to speak out, the noise will be deafening. Politicians will have to listen. We as the people of Britain and the United Nations need to hear the voices of our own consciences and heed the cries of the suffering people of Zimbabwe.’