The Franciscans in Zimbabwe, have condemned last month's elections, the Zimbabwe Daily News reported yesterday. In an official statement they said the elections were not free and fair because they were characterised by intimidation, beatings, arson and disenfranchisement. They said: "The use of youth groups and the unemployed as pawns in a political power struggle was shameful. It caused nothing but violence and destroyed traditional values of respect for elders, and concerns for the weak and innocent." The Franciscans also condemned the so-called fast-track land redistribution exercise saying while it was a 'noble exercise', it had contributed to the present paralysis of the agricultural sector and to the countrywide search for food. They said: "Party membership as a requirement for assistance on the brink of starvation is a sin before God and man. Who are the people making such evil demands?" The order urged all Christians and people of goodwill not to lose hope, concluding: "No regime goes on forever. In our immediate surroundings, family, social groups and church communities, we should take even small steps to a better future. We hold basic values, tolerance, generosity, mutual respect and truth, these transcend political affiliation. The resilience, pride and conviction exhibited on the voting days need to be kept alive. Peace and prosperity will only come through justice."
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