LWF Urges Ecumenical, International Community Support for Zimbabwe's Reconstruction

GENEVA, 18 September 2008 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) welcomes the recent agreement for a unity government in Zimbabwe as "a reasonable compromise for peace" and an opportune moment that demands an ecumenical response from the churches at national and international levels.

In a statement issued today, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko notes that while the wider global community had indicated it would wait and see how the agreement works in practice, he cautions such a position was "a strategy for failure" during an opportune moment. "Like the political leaders in Zimbabwe, the international community must put other considerations aside, and focus on the welfare of Zimbabweans," urges Noko.

The LWF general secretary pays tribute to the role of African regional leadership, especially South African President Thabo Mbeki, in brokering the 15 September power-sharing deal between the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parties. He underscores continued accompaniment of the process "to encourage and support the implementation of the commitments the parties have made."

The agreement effectively ends a standoff over the winner of disputed presidential elections in March 2008, which significantly aggravated an already serious political and economic crisis. Under the deal, President Robert Mugabe remains the head of state while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai will assume the new position of prime minister.

Noko urges solidarity with the country’s churches, which have been caught up in the crisis "and have all suffered together with the people." He underlines the prophetic calling of the national and international ecumenical community to exemplify unity and compassion in the complex process of national reconstruction. The people of Zimbabwe "deserve our support in this long-awaited but fragile moment of hope," he adds.

The LWF is present in the country through its member church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, and Lutheran Development Service – Zimbabwe, the Department for World Service associate program.