The leading Anglican Archbishop in Southern Africa has called for Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to end police persecution of the church, and described his government as ‘cynical and sinister’.
The statement comes only a few short months after a visit to Zimbabwe by The Archbishop of Canterbury, and was in response to an incident when the police broke up an annual Anglican retreat of 80 clergy outside of Harare.
The authorities claimed that the prayer gathering “didn’t have the appropriate clearance”, under new security laws.
The Most Revd Dr. Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern said: "I deplore the shocking action of the Zimbabwean police on Tuesday in preventing the clergy of the Diocese of Harare from holding their annual prayer retreat at Peterhouse School.
“I call on President Mugabe to ensure that the religious freedom of all Zimbabweans, and especially persecuted Anglicans, is respected, and to instruct the police to allow the churches freedom of assembly and worship.”
Archbishop Makgoba was part of an Anglican delegation led by the Archbishop of Canterbury which met with Mr Mugabe in October last year.
During the meeting they presented the Zimbabwean President with a dossier of the abuses to which Anglicans had been subject. They asked the President to use his powers as Head of State to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour.
For a while it seemed that they had been heard, as the persecution of Anglicans in Zimbabwe had lessened. But in recent times there has been a renewed upsurge in harassment faced by clergy and worshippers in the country.
January 5th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross