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South African cardinal seeks halt to weapons shipments to Zimbabwe

.- The Catholic Church in Southern Africa on Friday urged South Africa President Thabo Mbeki to halt shipment of military equipment to Zimbabwe from South Africa, the Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reports.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM, the Archbishop of Durban and spokesman for the South African Catholic Bishops Conference, said the move was prompted by reports that arms and munitions destined for Zimbabwe are being shipped through South Africa.

“On behalf of the Catholic Community in Southern Africa, I call on the South Africa government not to allow any more arms and munitions to enter Zimbabwe through South Africa until an acceptable solution is found to the present situation,” Cardinal Napier said, according to CISA.

Zimbabwe is suffering a political crisis after its national elections body failed to announce the results of the March 29 election.  The opposition of incumbent Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe claims to have won the election.  Reportedly, the Zimbabwe army has been beating people accused of membership in the opposition, especially in major towns.  In the countryside, violence has prompted many villagers to flee their homes.

“The deepening crisis and escalating violence in Zimbabwe compels us to repeat our call for immediate international intervention by a competent and objective mediator such as Kofi Annan,” Cardinal Napier said.

“Failure of the international community to act immediately condemns the Zimbabwean people to on-going insecurity and suffering.”

President Mbeki has said there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, CISA reports.  A regional summit last week failed to pressure Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe to quickly solve the deteriorating situation.


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