South Africa's clergy is demanding the resignation of former President Thabo Mbeki as mediator of the ongoing power sharing negotiations between President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The clergy say Mbeki has failed on various occasions to help find solutions to the political stalemate, which they claim has undermined his credibility. They are also calling on the international community, including the African Union to put more pressure on President Mugabe to end the stalemate in forming a unity government aimed at resolving the country's economic meltdown. But supporters of Mbeki dismissed the clergy's demand. Bishop Paul Veryn is the Head pastor of the Central Methodist Mission in South Africa. From Johannesburg he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Zimbabwe's ongoing crisis is an indictment of Mugabe's leadership.
"I think that is a fair comment by the church leaders particularly in view of the fact that Thabo Mbeki has had enough time to change the situation. And I want to tell you that I have between 1600 and 2000 Zimbabweans living in my church and I see every one of them when they come into the building and I can tell you that the circumstance of the ordinary person in the street has become unbearable. In actual fact it is not unbearable it is a disgrace on the leadership qualities of those people who have the responsibility of taking care of people," Bishop Veryn said.
He said the Zimbabweans living in his church have horror stories about how badly they have been treated and the pressure for them to abscond into neighboring countries just to survive the ongoing crisis.
"These are people who have either left because they cannot make ends meet or have been harassed, and threatened and tortured and the rest of it in Zimbabwe. And truly are one of the fundamentals of any mediation process must insist that there must be a cessation of this carnage activity. And it actually hasn't it actually made it much worse for Zimbabwean citizens," he noted.
He said the leadership of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has failed to yield power after its failed policies have plunged the country into an economic meltdown.
"If the leaders can be big enough to say actually we have made huge mistakes, let's give someone else an opportunity or if they break open the platform for discussion. There are many other people including church leaders who could add substantial critique as well as suggestions to what could solve the problem in Zimbabwe," he said.
Bishop Paul Veryn said President Mugabe and his government have failed the people of Zimbabwe.
"I don't think the politicians have proved their mettle at all. I think they let insecurities to get in the way of it and I think friends and favors have gotten in the way of it. I think the way Morgan Tsvangirai for one has been treated is despicable if one actually thinks he would be more than gracious in fact saying, I would go for a government of national unity. He (Tsvangirai) actually won the election that is the bottom line and Mugabe is illegitimate," Bishop Paul Veryn pointed out.
He said there was need for the international community to put more pressure on President Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF government to end the political stalemate.
"My feeling is that we need far more censure from SADC (Southern African Development Community) and the African Union (AU). Mugabe should not be permitted to go to those meetings anymore. He is not the rightful owner of that position," he said.
The clergy, who represent the Roman Catholic,
Methodist, Anglican, Dutch Reformed, Lutheran and Rhema Church leaders
described Mugabe's cling to power as illegitimate. They said Zimbabweans spoke
on March 31, 2008 by electing a new leadership and called on