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Settle outstanding issues — bishops

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Zimbabwe continues to isolate itself from the international community mainly because the inclusive government has not finalised outstanding issues under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) has said.

In a pastoral letter recently, the ZCBC said:

“We are concerned that not all the tenets of the GPA have been implemented, leading to the continued isolation of the country by most of the international community and the postponement of national healing, recovery, restoration and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights by all.”

The ZCBC was referring to the continued bickering between GPA signatories Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe, MDC-T president Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and former MDC-M president Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

The bishops said the three parties in the inclusive government must seriously engage each other in order to achieve national healing and social progress.

“Without this sincere engagement, we will continue to be dogged by violence, political intolerance, hate language in the public media, injustice, rigging of elections, fear and deception,” the bishops said in the statement released as part of its pastoral letter series.

The Catholic bishops said the signing of the GPA in September 2008 as well as the formation of the government of national unity (GNU) in February 2009 bore signs of hope for the restoration of peace in the country, “notwithstanding the worrying and tragic circumstances which gave rise to those developments”.

They also pointed out that their main worry was that “these were positive steps whose value has been eroded by lack of collective commitment and political will”.

ZCBC also took a swipe at the state-controlled media for its partisan reportage during the constitutional outreach programme.

“It is disheartening that the state media never really went out of its way to promote Copac (Constitutional Parliamentary Committee) and its quest for a people-driven constitution. So, too, national healing, reconciliation and integration, which are so vital for national well-being, never seem to be given much serious media coverage,” they said.

Zanu PF’s claim that it is the only legitimate party to “liberate the country” from colonial rule was also derided by the bishops as untrue.

“The claim to have monopoly in the liberation struggle by any single sector or party, is false and may be the misconception solely responsible for the abuse of human rights and the erosion of the sovereignty of the citizens in Zimbabwe,” said the statement.

“The liberation of Zimbabwe was achieved through the efforts of those who were inside the country and outside (both armed and unarmed), as well as by the international community.”

The bishops also said leaders in the inclusive government should “prioritise poverty eradication by using proceeds from natural resources like diamonds and the land for the development of the whole nation and all its citizens”.

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