Over the weekend, the opposition in Zimbabwe held a prayer rally/anti government rally. The rally, sponsored by the Movement for Democratic change, was was broken up by the police with tear gas and water cannons.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was badly beaten by police that he lost consciousness according to some reports, and taken to jail where he was kept despite orders by the Zimbabwe Supreme court to release him.

Twelve other leaders were arrested, and at least one man was killed.

Lovemore Madhuku who runs Zimbabwe’s largest civic organisation, the National Constitutional Aassembly, was also arrested, as was opposition leader Arthur Mutambara and six MP’s. There are many reports of bad conditions in jails, and mistreatment of prisoners including torture.
The government had forbidden political rallies, so the The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of church, civil rights, students, and political groups working for peaceful change in the government, held a prayer rally instead.

(Here in the Philippines, prayer rallies evolved into the People Power revolution that resulted in the peaceful overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship).

In the past, opposition leaders have been divided, and churches reluctant to become involved in politics, but now various church groups are encouraging peaceful democratic change. There is a day of prayer on April 18th that supporters hope will unite those outside and inside the country to have their voices heard both by the Lord, and by the international community, and will encourage South Africa and other African governments to pressure Mugabe to resign and for the government to change their bad economic policies.
Indeed, last week’s rally has finally resulted in publicity in major news outlets, not just on the back pages, and the BBC today had a five minute lead story about the rally and the economic collapse of that country’s once robust economy.

The economic situation in Zimbabwe has been deteriorating for several years, but now with 80% unemployment, two million economic refugees in South Africa, and lack of basic supplies to enable farmers to produce crops, the worry is that there will be another man made famine and food shortages again this year.
Yet the President, Robert Mugabe, just held a lavish birthday party, and has pressured the congress to extend his presidency by running again for president in 2008.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket and she blogs about human rights abuses in Zimbabwe at MugabeMakaipaBlog

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