Methodist Church expresses deep concern over Zimbabwe

The Methodist Church of Great Britain (MCB) has expressed deepconcern about the political situation in Zimbabwe. In recent weeksthe Zimbabwean government has been clearing dwellings in what isseen by some as a programme of political intimidation. At the sametime, the country's main harvest has failed due to erratic rainfallleaving many people vulnerable.

Roy Crowder, MCB World Church Secretary for Africa, said, "we notethe statements from the Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference andother Christian groups and are greatly concerned about this newexpression of political violence in Zimbabwe. There can be nojustification for such sudden and indiscriminate demolition of somany homes leaving men, women and children with nowhere to go. Wepray for those affected and for churches and other groups in thecountry who at this time are seeking to persuade the Government ofthe injustice of this action. MRDF and the World Church office arein dialogue with local partners regarding the clearance operationand will determine whether further support is required."

Meanwhile the food situation in Zimbabwe is causing alarm afterpoor rains that have affected the prospects of harvests in severalcountries in the region.

Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs for theMethodist Church, said, "The UN have estimated that 3 to 4 millionZimbabweans will require food assistance this year. The Governmentclaims that the Grain Marketing Board will order 1.2 million tonnesof grain from neighbouring countries but this will be a bigchallenge given the current foreign exchange situation."

"Many people are very vulnerable having already reduced their foodintake to one meal a day," said Steve Hucklesby. "It takes time tomobilise food and needs careful advance planning. Last yearPresident Mugabe predicted a bumper harvest and ordered the WFPfood assessment team out of the country. The situation this yearwill demand good working relationships between the Government ofZimbabwe, UN, private sector, NGOs and churches."

In May 2005, the UN Office for the Coordination of HumanitarianAffairs reported that the government confirmed that it was preparedto accept the findings of surveys carried out by the ZimbabweVulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC), provided the resultswere credible and reflected the country's "national situation". TheZIMVAC is a collaborative effort by United Nations agencies, thegovernment and donors, to gain a clearer picture of householdvulnerability.