Tsvangirai to appeal to exiles to return home

In a two-hour address at Southwark Cathedral before evensong on Saturday afternoon, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe will argue that his country has made important progress towards democracy and stability.

He will tell the thousands of Zimbabweans who have fled during Robert Mugabe’s rule that their country needs their skills, youth and vigour to help it move further along the path to recovery.

Mr Tsvangirai, who is on a three-week world tour to boost his country’s standing in the West, will also meet Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling in an effort to secure financial support for Zimbabwe and political support for his party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

 

Mr Tsvangirai’s host on Saturday, Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark, told The Times: “He is going around the world to try and persuade governments that now they have some power sharing at last, the better way out of this mess for governments is to support the country. They can do this by giving money. He is coming to the cathedral primarily to meet the Zimbabwean people in exile. He is going to say to them, ’You have real skills and abilities, please choose your moment and come home to Zimbabwe to help rebuild your country.”

Dean Slee said many of the asylum seekers were living in difficult circumstances in Britain. He admitted that like many, he feared a “blood bath” when Mugabe loses power. He hoped the southern African spirit would prevail to enable “truth and reconciliation” as happened in South Africa.

Mr Tsvangirai has chosen Southwark Cathedral to deliver his message because the diocese is linked to four of the five Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe, with the cathedral itself linked to a diocese of its own. Anglicans in Zimbabwe have suffered terrible privations in an episcopal power struggle that has seen worshippers locked out of churches and intimidated and persecuted by the regime.

A former Anglican bishop of Harare, the disgraced Nolbert Kunonga, an ally of Robert Mugabe, attempted to split the church and set up his own province with himself as archbishop, taking funds and property from the legitimate church.

Church doors have now been opened, however, and the new bishop, Sebastian Bakare, who keeps the chains that were used to lock the door of Harare Cathedral in a bag in his office, led Anglicans in Easter celebrations in the building this year for the first time in two years.

An appeal set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, has raised £300,000 to help the churches provide food and health care for the victims of the nation’s crisis.