The Anglican Church in Southern Africa has begun a relief fund for those in Zimbabwe affected by Operation Murambatsvina and has donated R250,000 to start it off.
This money will be used for food and other basic necessities and there is ongoing research and discussion aimed at identifying the most effective means of distribution of this aid. It is possible that we may join our efforts to those of other faith communities in Southern Africa.
While I support the UN's condemnation of those responsible for the operation and the call for them to be brought to book for their inhumane actions, my major concern now is with the well being of people so terribly affected by this humanitarian crisis.
In the short term, our concerns must be adequate food, water, shelter and healthcare and with these basics for human life the international community can be of much help. I appeal to the Zimbabwean Government to facilitate international humanitarian operations within the country since it has limited capacity to address these needs fully at present. I also appeal to President Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Government to stop the Operation immediately and to focus on rebuilding and reconstruction.
In the longer term, I endorse the recommendation contained in the UN Report that the Zimbabwean Government and all stakeholders work to revive dialogue and restore trust within the government itself and between Government and all spheres of civil society.
I am sure that there are independent and experienced facilitators, acceptable to government and civil society organisations, who could be called in to assist with such dialogue. In an earlier visit to Zimbabwe in 2003, I met with President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangiri, and representatives of civil society organisations and churches. They were unanimous in their view that there is no alternative to negotiations. I therefore call on all resourceful Zimbabweans to gather around the negotiating table and to work together to resolve their economic problems and political tensions.
I am happy to hear that the South African Government will engage with the UN on their recommendations regarding Zimbabwe and I look forward to meeting with President Mbeki again, together with the South African Council of Churches and other religious leaders to continue our discussions on how best to help the Zimbabwean community.
I appeal to the international community to assist in any way possible to bring relief to those hundreds of thousands of affected people and to help work towards restoring their living conditions to acceptable standards.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the Anglican relief fund for Zimbabwe may do so to the CPSA Disaster Relief Fund, Standard Bank, Cape Town (branch code 020009), account number 070078394.
For more information, please contact Penny Lorimer, Media Liaison for Archbishop Ndungane, on 082 894-1522.