Tutu and Sentamu urge Brown to act

20 September 2007

by Rachel Harden

Desparate measures: Mr Mcube, a resident of Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe, collects water for his four children from a sewer overspill. The government has failed to support those hit by the drought in the region tearfund

Desparate measures: Mr Mcube, a resident of Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe, collects water for his four children from a sewer overspill. The government has fai...


GORDON BROWN, the UK Prime Minister, said on Thursday that he would not attend the forthcoming EU/Africa summit if the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, was present.


Writing in The Independent, Mr Brown said: “President Mugabe’s attendance would mean lifting the EU visa ban that we have collectively imposed. I believe that President Mugabe’s presence would undermine the summit, diverting attention from the important issues that need to be resolved. In those circumstances, my attendance would not be appropriate.”


Mr Brown’s announcement came after several days of pressure from churchmen. Dr Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Capetown, and the Archbishop of York, both this week called on the Prime Minister to lead an international response to the “humanitarian disaster” happening in Zimbabwe.


Interviewed by ITN, Dr Tutu said that Africans “must hang their heads in shame for having allowed such a desparate situation to continue”. Gordon Brown should initiate “more effective intervention”.


Writing in Sunday’s Observer, Dr Sentamu agreed that an African response to the situation in Zimbawe was not the answer, and criticised President Thabo Mbeki for not taking action.


“At best he has been ineffective in his efforts to advise, cajole and persuade Robert Mugabe that it is time for him to reverse his unjust and brutal regime. At worst, Thabo Mbeki stands offering the other cheek in a complicit failing to lead the charge against a neighbour who is systematically raping the country he leads.”


Dr Sentamu said that it was time for Gordon Brown to revise Britain’s foreign policy towards Zimbabwe.


“Like Amin before him in Uganda, Mugabe has rallied a country against its former colonial master, only to destroy it through a dictatorial fervour which has brought the country to its knees. Enemies are tortured, the press are censored, the people are starving; and meanwhile the world waits for South Africa to intervene. That time is over.”

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