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Anglican Leaders Urge Harare Bishop To Speak For Needs Of Poor

Senior Anglican church officials have urged the sect's top cleric in Zimbabwe to speak with an “independent voice” on human rights and economic problems.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of Central Africa, Bernard Malanga, met this week with the Anglican Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, and later issued a joint statement saying that “all ministers of the gospel must be free to serve and to speak for the needs of those most deprived and disadvantaged.”

The bishops said social justice and economic development are necessary to meet the United Nations Millenium Development Goals including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and ensuring universal primary education, among others.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with the Reverend Emmanuel Hlabangana, head of the advocacy and diaspora desk of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition’s South Africa branch. Hlabangana praised the bishops for raising the issue, but questioned Kunonga’s ability to effect change.

In Zimbabwe itself, the Save Zimbabwe Campaign announced its intention to hold a prayer meeting Sunday at the Zimbabwe grounds in Highfield, Harare.

Leaders of the opposition coalition said supporters of all of its member organizations are expected to attend. Zimbabwe police authorities have banned political gatherings, but organizers say they intend to go ahead with the planned prayer meeting.

Officials and members of the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC's founding president, clashed with police last month in Highfield after authorities blocked a Tsvangirai presidential campaign rally called there.

Christian Alliance and Save Zimbabwe Campaign spokesman Jonah Gokovah told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that police have no cause to seek to block the Highfield prayer meeting as it is not political in nature.

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