Zimbabwe: now the hard work begins

 Church organisations in Zimbabwe are praising the calm and dignified manner in which the people took part in the recent elections. Fr Walter Nyatsanza, secretary of the Zimbabwean Bishops' Conference, said: "This has been healthy. It has created a real process of democracy." Commending the maturity of the people, Tarcisius Zimbiti, acting national director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, said: "We Zimbabweans are going through a very trying time in our nation's life. We are all obliged to play our part in helping our nation heal the wounds of this very difficult and painful moment. Elections come and go, but we shall remain neighbours." Richard Miller, head of CAFOD's Zimbabwe office said: "The massive turn out in this election demonstrates people's enthusiasm for the democratic process. The challenge now, however, is to turn the spotlight away from conflict and towards the real problems facing people in their everyday lives. While land is one issue, there is also an urgent need to revive the economy, create new jobs and tackle the AIDS/HIV pandemic." Almost every aspect of Zimbabwe's economic life is in deep crisis. Agriculture, mining and tourism are suffering. More than half the adult population is out of work. Inflation currently stands at 60 per cent. An entire generation is under threat with one in four of the population believed to be HIV positive. Some of CAFOD's partner groups in the country ran voter education programmes in advance of the election. One of these was aimed at encouraging rural women to vote. President Mugabe's Zanu PF party scraped through the elections winning 62 seats while the recently-formed Movement For Democratic Change won 57 in spite of a very violent election campaign, in which at least 38 of their supporters were killed and many more were injured. Voters turned out in large numbers for the election, which was conducted very peacefully. Mr Zimbiti said: "Our mature response will take us to even greater heights. Let us aspire to those heights with the same calm and dignity as we have demonstrated over the last two days."

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