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Zimbabwe Church Leaders Seek MDC Blessing Of 'National Vision'

The Churches in Zimbabwe organization which has made overtures to President Robert Mugabe and recently presented him with a "National Vision" document is now seeking the endorsement of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the paper.

Senior church figures from the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Fellowship and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches approached the MDC this week, sources said.

The church group presented the document, entitled "The Zimbabwe We Want," to the president late last month, but one source present at that encounter said Mr. Mugabe's response was "lukewarm," particularly on the point of a constitutional redraft.

Only one opposition figure, Daniel Shumba of the little known United People's Party, attended the meeting between the churchmen and the president. The other opposition parties, including Tsvangirai’s faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, have aligned with a rival church group styling itself the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

Political analysts said the Churches in Zimbabwe's ”National Vision” document could be a dead letter if the group fails to obtain Tsvangirai's buy-in for its approach.

Sources said the group sought a meeting with Tsvangirai this week, but the founding president of the MDC said he needed time to study the document and consult with his lieutenants when his faction's National Executive Council meets on Saturday.

A church source said the aim is to open dialogue between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai faction confirmed that the opposition grouping has had contacts with the Churches in Zimbabwe formation.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...