Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference Condemns Mugabe


Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM, Spokesman for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, released a statement on December 18th calling for stronger action by South Africa and SADC (Southern African Development Community). In solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, the statement declares that “it is now time to isolate Mugabe completely and to remove all forms of moral, material or tacit support for him and his party. Regardless of whether he is a former “liberator” or an “Elder African Statesman”, he must be forced to step down.”

Read below for the full statement.

South Africa Must Isolate Mugabe

1.      As world leaders and people everywhere express their horror at the

rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, we, the Catholic

bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, add our voice to the

cries of those who insist that no effort must be spared in ensuring that a

political solution to the current impasse is found. This is the

indispensable first step towards stopping the current collapse of the

country so that a new effort to rebuilding it can begin.

2.      We are acutely conscious of the crucial role that South Africa has been

playing, can play, and has to play in facilitating a process towards

justice and peace in Zimbabwe. We are deeply saddened that, after eight

years of mediation, all the talk has borne no fruit. These efforts were

made in the hope that Robert Mugabe could be persuaded to negotiate with

the opposition in the interests of the Common Good of the whole Zimbabwean

nation. However, since he lost the election in March this year, he has

continued to cling to power, waging war against anyone suspected of not

supporting him, and refusing to share any real power with those who beat

him in the election. It is clear that Mugabe is not prepared to relinquish

control voluntarily, and that he is willing to watch thousands of innocent

people die of starvation and cholera as long as he is able to retain

power. Like Pharaoh he is obstinate and refuses to listen to the people

(Exodus 8:15). He will do so only if enough pressure is brought to bear on


3.      We are extremely disappointed at the inability of the SADC leadership,

including the new South African President, to make any headway. The

apportioning of equal blame to all the Zimbabwean political leaders for

the political impasse is a travesty of justice and truth. Regardless of

what anyone may feel about the MDC, it is clear that they and especially

those who voted for them are the victims in this whole tragedy . They have

made major concessions which have not been reciprocated by ZANU (PF), who

must bear total responsibility for the current impasse.

4.      It is now time to isolate Mugabe completely and to remove all forms of

moral, material or tacit support for him and his party. Regardless of

whether he is a former “liberator” or an “Elder African Statesman”, he

must be forced to step down. No true liberator or statesman clings

ruthlessly to power, as Mugabe has done, while his people live and die in

misery and destitution. No solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe is possible

as long as he is there. Some African leaders, to their shame, have felt it

necessary to stand in solidarity with Mugabe against the supposed

machinations of former colonial and present imperial powers; it is time

for them to re-direct their solidarity towards the needs of the suffering

people of this once-thriving country.

5.      The South African Government has the capacity to force Mugabe to go.

All that is lacking is the political will. History will judge very harshly

the tacit support still given to Mugabe and the little (if any) support

given to his opposition as well as the total disregard for the people of


6.      We therefore call on President Motlanthe to stop immediately all

collusion with Mugabe and to cut off any life-blood that South Africa is

offering him. In consultation with the majority party in the Zimbabwean

parliament, the MDC, and with civil society organizations, consideration

must be given to the cutting-off of electricity and fuel supplies from

South Africa. In addition, any assets held by Mugabe and his cronies in

South Africa should be frozen immediately.

7.      We express our deepest solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe at this

desperate time. We recommit ourselves and our people to praying that

they will be able to unite and to have the courage and the strength to

persevere in the struggle to remove the evil brought on them by Mugabe’s

dictatorship and the armed forces he uses to enforce it.

All media enquiries to Fr Chris Townsend, Information Officer of the

Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.


Cell: +27 (0) 82 783 4729

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