Zimbabwe Crisis Headed for 'Catastrophe'

The beleaguered country has seen six recent harvests fail and inflation rocket to more than 200 million percent, while the failure to implement a power-sharing agreement reached between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in September has further destabilized the country.

The Methodist Church reported Thursday that the combination of the worst drought in a decade, bad government policies and a lack of seeds and fertilizers was “proving disastrous.”

“The stalemate in negotiations between MDC and Zanu-PF is making the situation even worse,” informed Roy Crowder, a Methodist partnership coordinator with special responsibility for Africa.

“This is a time when people should be planting for the following year, but the economy is devastated and seeds and fertilizer are in short supply,” he said.

“The delay in achieving a viable political agreement threatens to prolong the economic and humanitarian crisis.”

Since last month, after Zimbabwe lifted its ban on aid agencies operating in the country, Crowder has urged people to support the newly launched Methodist Relief and Development Fund appeal. Funds raised there will go towards delivering food and agricultural support to vulnerable people in partnership with Action by Churches Together International.

“We urge people to support the Methodist Relief and Development Fund appeal because the current crisis is expected to result in catastrophe in the next few months,” said Crowder.

The latest warning from the Methodist Church came in the same week that the convenor of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance slammed churches in the country for staying silent on the suffering.

“The Zimbabwe Council of Churches has done nothing,” Methodist Bishop Levee Kadenge was quoted as saying by Ecumenical News International. “The churches should have been speaking without fear of favor, just speaking on behalf of suffering masses of Zimbabwe. Their absenteeism is so pronounced."

Also this week, a top aide to Zimbabwe’s opposition leader accused President Robert Mugabe’s party of not acting in good faith and "emasculating basic freedoms." Students and women protesters have reportedly been assaulted while calling for talks to resolve Zimbabwe’s power-sharing impasse to be sped up.