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Zimbabwe: church leaders hit out at government

 Zimbabwean church leaders have hit out at the government's "irresponsible, inhuman, violent, partisan" methods of land redistribution, and accused it of fuelling a culture of violence. In the strongly-worded statement put out by more than a hundred clergymen from 59 churches, the church leaders said that "draconian pieces of law", such as the country's security and press laws were stifling fundamental freedoms. "We acknowledge the historical imbalances in respect of land redistribution. However, we do not approve of irresponsible, inhuman, violent, partisan and non-transparent methods of addressing the problem," it said. In 2000 President Robert Mugabe's government launched a fast-track programme of redistributing white-owned farms to new black farmers, which aid agencies say is partly to blame for chronic food shortages here. The leaders also strongly criticised the government's two-year-old national youth service programme, saying its members were responsible for serious human rights abuses. Zimbabwe is deeply politically divided between supporters of Mugabe's Zanu PF party and those of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Three bishops are currently trying to get the two parties talking. The church statement acknowledged their efforts, but said it was concerned at the lack of progress. "We therefore urge all parties concerned to treat the talks with urgency," said the statement, which came from a meeting held earlier this month. It said South African delegates were also present at the meeting. The church leaders called for the immediate abolition of the youth service, "the immediate repeal of POSA (Public Order and Security Act) and AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act)" and a new constitution. Source: ZW News