Churches concern at Zimbabwe violence

The Methodist and United Reformed Churches have togethervoiced their concern about increasing levels of violence andpolitical intimidation, linked to the delay in announcing theresult of Zimbabwe's presidential election.

Commenting on the precarious situation, the Revd Dr StephenOrchard, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United ReformedChurch said: 'The Zimbabwe Election Commission owes it to thelong-suffering people of Zimbabwe to announce the presidentialresult without further delay, to enable people to begin the urgenttask of rebuilding their shattered lives and economy. We condemnthe campaign of violence and intimidation that has been embarkedupon by members of the ruling party, following the announcement ofthe parliamentary election results. We also believe that people whohold power in any country have a first duty to care for the poorand vulnerable rather than for themselves'.

Reflecting on the escalating humanitarian crisis, the GeneralSecretary of the Methodist Church, the Revd David Deeks, said 'Theimpact on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans has been immense. Thepeople of Zimbabwe appear to have voted for change and the leadersof Southern African states bear a huge responsibility to ensurethat the will of the people is respected. If that doesn't happen,the crisis in Zimbabwe could have an increasingly devastatingimpact on the entire region'.

The two churches expressed their solidarity and support in prayerand action with their partner churches and agencies in Zimbabwe andpledged to continue working together to achieve peace, justice andprosperity there. They illustrated the plight of Zimbabweans withstatistics, including:

In 1987 inflation averaged 11.9 percent. It surged to an officialrecord of 100,586 percent in January 2008, but economic experts saythe real rate is much higher.

Average life expectancy dropped from 63 years in 1990 to 37.3years in 2005, according to World Bank and U.N. figures.

Estimated at about 80% of the working population.