Zim churches: Mugabe govt 'behaving irresponsibly in face of crisis'

Harare - President Robert Mugabe's government has behaved in an "irresponsible" way in the face of a growing economic crisis, and the fears of Zimbabwe's citizens are "legitimate", a leading association of churches said Wednesday.

In a strongly-worded statement, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) said the government had lost the trust of citizens and should urgently try to regain it.

Legitimate fears

"Zimbabweans have lost trust that the government is sincere in addressing national problems when they see the government officials choosing to send their children to foreign schools and being treated in foreign hospitals," it said.

The latest crisis in Zimbabwe emerged over the weekend, when fuel queues resurfaced and panic buying of basic commodities gripped some stores.

It came as fears abound that the country is facing a repeat of the 2007-2008 crisis that saw empty store shelves and fuel stations on the back of foreign currency shortages.

The ZCC, which groups 26 different denominations, said the fears of citizens were legitimate. 

"In a situation where there are winding queues at the fuel stations, it is irresponsible for any government official to insinuate that all is well in our nation," the statement says.

President Robert Mugabe got back from New York on Monday and declared that the recent spate of price hikes and shortages in the country was the work of "saboteurs", possibly within his ruling party, who are bent on sparking a revolt against his government.

Opulent living

But the ZCC said the government would need to make a "deliberate choice" to show it was cutting down on its own use of scarce foreign currency.

"The government needs to address the general perception that the current shortages are a result of bad economic decisions, corruption, greed and opulent living among those connected to power."

In its statement, also addressed to citizens and churches, the ZCC called on ordinary Zimbabweans to guard against "revealing the worst instead of the best" amid the crisis.

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