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Zimbabwean church leaders hit out at government

Church leaders in Zimbabwe have criticised the government's "irresponsible, inhuman, violent, partisan" methods of land redistribution, and accused it of fuelling a culture of violence.

In the strongly-worded statement put out by more than a hundred clergy from 59 churches, the church leaders said that "draconian pieces of law", such as the country's security and press laws were stifling fundamental freedoms.

"We acknowledge the historical imbalances in respect of land redistribution. However, we do not approve of irresponsible, inhuman, violent, partisan and non-transparent methods of addressing the problem," it said.

In 2000 President Robert Mugabe's government launched a fast-track program of redistributing white-owned farms to new black farmers, which aid agencies say is partly to blame for chronic food shortages here.

The leaders also strongly criticised the government's two-year-old national youth service program, saying its members were responsible for serious human rights abuses. Zimbabwe is deeply politically divided between supporters of Mugabe's Zanu PF party and those of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Independent Catholic News

Zimbabwe bishops want youth militia disbanded (17/9/03)
Zimbabwe church leaders meet Mugabe (29/7/03)
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference
Zimbabwe police detain outspoken Archbishop before peace service (10/6/03)
Cardinal: A time to pray for Zimbabwe (Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales)
Zimbabwe's Prelate of Courage (Washington Dispatch)
Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference

29 Sep 2003