The South African Catholic Bishops Conference has warned that Zimbabwe is on the brink of civil war. In a statement following the SACBC's recently plenary meeting, spokesperson Archbishop Buti Tlhagale called on the South African government to play a more active role in exposing political and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Emphasising the urgency of the situation, he urged the government to ensure the country's expulsion from the Commonwealth for state-sanctioned human rights abuses and the disbandment of all militia. "There are deeply disturbing signs that Zimbabwe is on the brink of total breakdown into civil war, with massive food and fuel shortages, and increasing levels of organised state terror," said Tlhagale. "The greatest concern is over the role of youth militia nicknamed the 'green bombers'." he added. "Whilst the youths are not fully trained soldiers, they receive basic military training turning them into potential instruments of greater terror." The so-called Green Bombers, believed to be responsible for the kidnap and torture of several opposition party and civil society leaders, undergo rigorous training and political orientation by the Zimbabwe Defence Force and the War Veterans Association. The bishops also expressed concern over alleged 'loyalty tests' applied to the distribution of food aid to victims of famine and drought: "Independent reports show that those who do not demonstrate allegiance to Zanu PF are excluded from food relief. Such practices are morally repulsive. The South African government has a moral responsibility to act in the name of South Africa's citizens to end such abuses."
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