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Zimbabweans Mark Africa Day But Observers Say Country Falls Short of AU Ideals

President Mugabe ignited a flame of peace at Africa Day ceremonies in Harare and urged Zimbabweans to maintain the ideals of the African Union’s founders, and Prime Minister Tsvangirai's hailed South African democracy

Zimbabweans on Tuesday observed Africa Day, President Robert Mugabe igniting a flame of peace at Africa Day ceremonies in Harare and calling for Zimbabweans to maintain the ideals of the African Union’s founders.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai issued a statement saying it respects African institutions and values, hailing South Africa as a model of democracy for all of Africa and expressing confidence that the neighboring country will represent Africa well during the upcoming World Cup games.

Democracy Manager Joy Mabenge of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that Zimbabwe still lags in upholding the African union’s ideals.

Many church-goers gathered for a National Day of prayer to mark Africa Day. The prayer vigil was organized by the Intercessors for Zimbabwe, under the theme “Giving Thanks to God” as a response to the tense political situation.

Worshipers gathered at Harry Margolis Hall in Harare and similar assemblies were held in Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Marondera and other cities and towns. The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches also took part in organizing the day of prayer, church sources said.

Reverend John Chimbambo, national coordinator of the Intercessors for Zimbabwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that they have prayed for the nation every May 25 for 13 years now.

In South Africa, meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and its affiliates observed Africa Day handing a symbolic red card - sign of a disqualifying violation in soccer - to xenophobia, which has plagued the country.

Dozens of union leaders signed a two-meter-long soccer jersey of the national team, Bafana Bafana ("The Boys, The Boys") as a symbol of workers’ determination to stamp out abuse of foreigners by uniting Africans through the World Cup that begins on June 11, correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported from Johannesburg.