"It's like there is a war in Zimbabwe" – Bishop

Stockholm – An Anglican bishop from Zimbabwe on Monday expressed grave concern over the situation in his country, sentiments that were echoed by a Swedish cabinet minister.

"It is like a war, in the sense that there is total absence of peace," Bishop Sebastian Bakare told Swedish radio news.

Bakare was in Sweden to accept the Per Anger Prize, a human rights prize for his efforts at fighting oppression.

The prize, worth 150 000 kronor, was created in 2004 in honour of Swedish diplomat Per Anger and honours "people and organisations that risk their own safety to defend the rights of the individual against oppression and inhumanity".

Anger was a close associate of Raoul Wallenberg, who was credited with saving thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

"People are crying, no food, no water, no medication," Bakare earlier told broadcaster TV4. "Some are displaced, children are not going to school. I think every aspect of our society you look at is crying."

Bakare expressed doubts about the call for power-sharing of the home affairs ministry between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his arch-rival, prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai.

A summit of southern African leaders called for this on Sunday, but Tsvangirai questioned the viability of sharing the key ministry.

The bishop said he had "never had any trust in any compromise in government. You either win or you lose. The elections in March were decisive enough, that is what the people wished."

"People need to have a strong government to put the economic situation in a better position, not this wishy-washy kind of argument," he added, saying that he was optimistic that "one day Zimbabwe is going to be free."

International Development Co-operation Minister Gunilla Carlsson said she was "disappointed" that the emergency summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) had failed to break the deadlock between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

"While the negotiations drag on, the people of Zimbabwe are paying a high price," Carlsson added in a statement.

Later this week, Bakare, installed as bishop of Harare earlier this year, was also due to be keynote speaker at a human rights conference in Lulea, northern Sweden.

Last year, Colombian human rights group, Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), received the Per Anger Prize. – SAPA