Zimbabwe: Compromise could save a nation

Presidential elections in March reconfirmed Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980, as leader of the country, but only just. According to Fidelis Mukonori SJ, new Provincial of Zimbabwe, ?the strong electoral mandate for two political parties indicate the need to work together for the good of the nation. Political maturity requires political compromise, which is a sign of strength, not of weakness.? Balanced information about Zimbabwe?s situation is totally missing from the media, he says. Violence during the electoral campaign by both parties is diminishing. Some international observers considered the vote fair and free. ?Legitimacy is important, but so is confidence building,? says Fr Mukonori. The President, not recognised by many Western countries, is under strong diplomatic pressure to set up a broad-based government of national unity. Meanwhile the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) needs stability as well as credibility in the eyes of the international community. The country is facing a serious drought, people need food and medicine just to survive this season. Job creation, rural modernisation and urban housing are urgent, while the issue of redistribution and compensation for agricultural land monopolised by the white minority remains outstanding. Zimbabwe?s difficulties are aggravated by three years of de-facto sanctions and the lack of foreign investment. ZCTU, the main trade union organisation, is threatening protests. Having appealed to young people to eschew violence and resist political manipulation during the electoral campaign, the Jesuits are inviting everyone to adopt a mature outlook in a spirit of reconciliation. Silveira House, established by the Jesuits in 1964 as an NGO centre for development, aims to empower people through leadership courses, civic training, peace building and conflict resolution. Many political and trade-union leaders have been formed at Silveira House, which now can nudge the Government and the Unions back to dialogue. [HL20404]