Following a worldwide outcry over the suffering in Zimbabwe, Africa's Catholic bishops have said the country is in the grip of "a crisis of moral leadership and bad governance." They appealed "to the Government of Zimbabwe, in the name of Jesus, to immediately stop the violence" against its people. A statement by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on Saturday said: "the situation in Zimbabwe is not the result of a natural catastrophe or only of adverse international conditions. It is largely self-inflicted. It is a crisis of moral leadership and of bad governance." President Robert Mugabe, a Catholic, has led the southern African nation since Independence in 1980. The bishops of Africa "are saddened and concerned about the suffering of our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe." Their statement came as Southern African leaders gathered in Tanzania to find a solution to the political and economic crisis. A fact-finding mission sent to Zimbabwe recently by SECAM reported that the situation there had reached a state where an uncontrolled outbreak of violence, chaos and anarchy was more and more becoming a danger. The bishops said freedom of assembly, expression and movement no longer exists in Zimbabwe. Members of the civil society, political opponents and even ordinary citizens are often victims of violent acts, meted out on them by the state for no legitimate reason. "Basic needs are hardly met; food has become unaffordable for the vast majority of the population. Drugs and medical services are far beyond the reach of the ordinary Zimbabwean. The education system is almost collapsing," the statement said. The crisis had forced almost four million Zimbabweans into exile. "At the same time, the wave of refugees to Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries is also becoming a burden for that region." The bishops said. The bishops appealed to African leaders to prevail upon the government of Zimbabwe to immediately take measures to stop the violence and carnage that is engulfing the country. They also urged all churches and people of faith and good will in Africa to join the people of Zimbabwe in their national day of prayer scheduled for the 14th of April 2007 by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Zimbabwe. Source: CISA
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