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Zimbabwe: Bishops accuse southern African leaders of 'passive genocide'

 In their strongest message to date, Southern African Catholic bishops yesterday told the region's politicians to stop supporting President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, or accept complicity in a "passive genocide".

In a message to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders meeting in Pretoria yesterday, the bishops said Mugabe should step down immediately and southern African leaders "must stop supporting and giving credibility to the illegitimate Mugabe regime with immediate effect".

"Failing this, SADC leaders must accept complicity in creating the conditions that have resulted in starvation, displacement, disease and death for ordinary Zimbabweans. This is nothing short of passive genocide," the bishops said.

Seven African presidents including Botswana President Ian Khama, gathered in Pretoria for talks to try to build a power-sharing unity government between Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

In the meantime, Zimbabwe's economy is in total collapse, there are massive shortages of food, electricity and water, and the death toll from cholera continues to rise.