The Church in Zimbabwe said it is prepared to mediate between government and opposition leaders after six people were killed in violence that followed a disputed presidential election.
“We have offered to mediate any election disputes as well as broader concerns,” Fr Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, told Catholic News Service.
With their parish and other structures, Zimbabwe’s churches would be well positioned to lead the activities of the national peace and reconciliation process that began early this year, he said.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner in voting on 30th July, but opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has disputed the result and said he will challenge it in court.
Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, after a military takeover in November.
“We condemn the killing of the demonstrators and all the ruthless force used” by the army and police, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe said after security forces in the capital, Harare, shot at protesters who accused the government of vote-rigging.
Noting that the use of live ammunition to restrain unarmed civilians was “too extreme” and violated basic rights, the commission also criticised the protesters for violence including destruction of property.
It urged the security forces to apologise, particularly to the bereaved families.
Picture: Demonstrators protest on 4th August following election results in Zimbabwe, outside the Zimbabwe embassy in London. (CNS photo/Toby Melville, Reuters).