South African church delegation returns to Zimbabwe

 A delegation from the South African Council of Churches (SACC) which visited the country last week is returning today, Eddie Makue, the SACC deputy secretary-general, said the delegation was due to leave for Harare at the weekend to establish relief efforts for the thousands of Zimbabweans left destitute by the government sponsored 'Operation Restore Order'. It follows the council's two-day fact-finding mission to Harare which ended on July 11. The pastoral mission reported upon their return that the operation, which was meant to "clean out" Zimbabwe's slums and informal settlements, had left close to a million people homeless and living under "inhumane" conditions. Makue said the purpose of today's visit would be to explore ways of bringing about relevant relief to Zimbabweans. "The first visit was to gain information, come back and report back to central committee which makes decisions. Now we will go back and share the decision with the churches in Zimbabwe," said Makue. He said the SACC would make "an offer" to their Zimbabwean counterparts, but would not "take over" relief efforts. "Doing so would be wrong because that would disempower people if we take over," said Makue. "The churches might indicate to us the areas of resolution that they need for us to engage on alone if they feel we have more resources." Although the council had collected items such as food and blankets, Makue said the type of relief they would offer would be "informed by the situation on the ground". The council was aware of Zimbabwe's dire economic situation and they wanted to "quantify" it, he said. Responding to President Thabo Mbeki's assurance yesterday that the South African government was behind relief efforts by the SACC, Makue said his assurance was only "in principle" for now. "Hypothetically speaking, if we had a lot of good that we needed to carry to Zimbabwe, this means we could use a SA Defence Force helicopter for instance. We have done that many times before, in Somalia, Angola and Burundi," said Makue. Source: ZW News

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