Thinking Anglicans

Zimbabwe update

The previous TA report on Zimbabwe is here.

Last week’s Church Times contained an article by Bishop Nick Baines entitled The real situation in Zimbabwe:

…Given this dire situation, which the Mugabe regime blames on everyone except itself, why does the Anglican Church appear to be silent? In contrast with the recent Pastoral Letter from the Roman Catholic bishops, which called for an end to bad governance and corrupt leadership, the statement issued after the (Anglican) Episcopal Synod of the Province of Central Africa, held in Harare on 12 April, appears typically bland and timid. That is how it has been caricatured in the world’s media. I think, however, that to say this would be to miss the point…

Read it all.

This week, there is a letter in response to the article (link available next week) which severely criticises this piece. The letter refers to the way the statement was interpreted in the government-controlled Herald in this article dated 20 April Anglican Bishops Rap Sanctions starting thus:

THE Anglican Church Province of Central Africa has added its voice to the growing condemnation of the illegal Western sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and called for their scrapping, urging Britain to honour its obligations to fund land reforms in the country.
In their Pastoral letter issued at the end of their Episcopal Synod in Harare last week, the 14 bishops and one canon, among them the head of the Province of Central Africa, the Most Rev Bernard Amos Malango, acknowledged that the economic situation in Zimbabwe stemmed from illegal sanctions.
“We, the bishops, are concerned and pained at the distressing occurrences that have been taking place in Zimbabwe; the deteriorating economy has rendered the ordinary Zimba-bwean unable to make ends meet.
“This, we note, has been exacerbated by the economic sanctions imposed by the Western countries, these so-called targeted sanctions (presumably) aimed at the leadership of the country have affected the poor Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt of the sanctions . . .
“We, therefore, call upon the Western countries to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, we further call upon the British government to honour its obligation of paying compensation to the white farmers.”
The Anglican Bishop’s pastoral letter exposes the patently political nature of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference that released its own letter ahead of the Easter holidays, accusing President Mugabe and the Government of corrupt governance and human rights abuses…

Another opinion article dated 11 May, from the Zimbabwe Independent and titled Diabolic is the Perfect Description includes this:

…And we have now the shocking scandal of Anglican prelates who are happy to identify themselves with tyranny and brutal repression.
The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon, who was reported in the Herald as accusing the British media of “peddling lies” about Zimbabwe during a meeting with Cephas Msipa, has now clarified his position.
At no point did he say the British press had lied about Zimbabwe, he said.
“What I said was that they shouldn’t complain about poor reporting of Zimbabwean affairs if journalists were banned from the country and had to rely on second-hand information,” he told a British-based weekly paper.
A man calling himself a journalist from the Herald approached him, he said, and claimed to have evidence that Church of England groups supported the MDC.
“Of course I denied the assertion and asked him why on earth anyone would wish to recolonise Zimbabwe.”
All rather different from the Herald version isn’t it!
Meanwhile, Anglican bishops have complained that their church’s episcopal letter, condemning sanctions and framed in language which mirrors that of the ruling party, was penned by the Bishops of Harare and Manicaland (Nolbert Kunonga and Elson Jakazi) and two others in Central Africa.
The Bishop of Masvingo, the Rt Revd Godfrey Tawonezvi, says he didn’t even get to see it.
“I did not sign the statement and I know that most bishops did not sign since the statement was written after the bishops had left Zimbabwe,” he said…

Episcopal News Service and others carry the report by Trevor Grundy that Rowan Williams speaks on failed bid to help starving Zimbabweans:

…At a May 1 meeting held at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, Williams was asked why Anglican church funds were not used to fill trucks with food and send them across Beit Bridge from South Africa to Bulawayo in southern Zimbabwe where people are starving.
Williams surprised those attending the meeting by saying that four years ago he held discussions with Southern Africa Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town about the best approach to help Zimbabwe.
A year ago, Williams again held talks with central and southern African Anglicans — a meeting that did not include Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare, a staunch ally of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Again, he asked what sort of intervention from outside could be useful.
“The message I had from them was any intervention under the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury would instantly be branded in Zimbabwe as the British government by another name,” Williams said.
Williams met with Kunonga in March “to ask him whether he would contemplate not only rediscovering his soul, so to speak, in relation to the Mugabe government, but whether he would contemplate an arrangement which we would willingly broker with the World Food Programme administered through the Anglican church in Zimbabwe. The answer was ‘No’!”…

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Cheryl Clough
17 years ago

Ekklesia reports that Mugabe has threatened the Catholic bishops One of my grievances in recent times are that there are some souls whose anathema is not with tyranny, but with not being the people wielding the power. It’s okay for there to be thuggery, as long as we are the thugs. Zimbabwe is obviously an extreme example. More subtle forms can be seen in the idolatry of the rule of authority. e.g. trying to make out the US church submit to the new “pope” of repressive theology. A contemplation in the last few days is that this could be… Read more »

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
17 years ago

I know Tunde is a long way from Zimbabwe and it’s a bit like asking someone in Edinburgh about things in Athens, but how is this saga playing in Africa? Is it above the radar at all in his province?

17 years ago

I am amazed that the Bishop Kunonga is able to sleep at night knowing members of the communion are starving and he is backing the repressive regime. I can only imagine it is because his own face is in the trough with others .I hope I am wrong but Jesus knows the truth and the truth sets us free. I pray for those in positions of trust in Zimbabwe both spiritual and political but mostly I pray for the starving majority

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