|There is life in Zimbabwe, native tells committee|
Members and guests of the Africa University Development Committee pray
at the start of their Sept. 23 meeting in Nashville, Tenn. A UMNS photo
by Linda Green.
By Linda Green*
Sept. 26, 2007 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)
United Methodist-related Africa University is located in Mutare,
Zimbabwe, a country suffering from an inflation rate of 7,500 percent. A
UMNS file photo by
Even as the African country of Zimbabwe falters under a staggering
inflation rate of 7,500 percent, "there is life," says a Zimbabwean
Speaking to members of the Africa University Advisory Development
Committee Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, the Zimbabwean — who asked for
anonymity out of concern about government repercussions — said that
while numerous challenges face the sub-Saharan country, the most
difficult is shortages of basic commodities on market shelves.
However, food is available outside the established channels. "One has
to stretch a little bit to make sure food is on the table," she added.
The development committee, established in 1993, works with the Africa
University Development Office in Nashville and agencies of The United
Methodist Church to raise money for the school's capital, endowment and
Waiting for change
The Zimbabwean native assured the committee members that while the
country is facing turbulent times, "there is life in Zimbabwe." "We are
surviving," she said.
What is happening in Zimbabwe is not new to Africa. "The history of
Africa and the history of a lot of African countries is that they all
have gone through some of these adversities and have come out of it,"
The country has experienced water shortages and drought, a lack of
foreign currency, electrical outages, political repression, economic
hardships and poverty. An estimated four out of five Zimbabweans live
below the poverty line. Since 2002, an estimated 3 million residents
have fled to South Africa alone, while others have gone to Zambia and
"A few years ago, Angola faced similar economic challenges, but today
has the fastest-growing economy in the world, at 35 percent, making it
three times the growth of the United States," said the Zimbabwean, who
does business throughout the continent.
Critics of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe blame government
mismanagement for much of the nation's woes. At 83, Mugabe has been
Zimbabwe's only president since the country achieved independence from
Britain 27 years ago. His tenure has been marked by economic crises that
include chronic shortages of food and fuel. Unemployment today is
estimated at above 80 percent, and human rights leader Desmond Tutu,
former Anglican archbishop of Capetown, has called for Africa and the
world to pay attention to Zimbabwe's plight.
School carries on
Despite all that is happening, Africa University officials say the
school continues to function unaffected by the politics of the country.
While it is affected by commodity shortages, the university farm helps
make up for that by providing vegetables, milk and eggs for the school.
The university also "continues to operate without any interference
from the government," James Salley, director of institutional
He told the committee that all of Zimbabwe awaits a change. "We
believe a change is going to come to Zimbabwe. The people are waiting
for that change. It will not be violent but orderly and in God's time."
A sign of change occurred Sept. 18, when a constitutional deal was
approved by the country's ruling and main opposition parties. The
constitutional amendments pave the way for joint parliamentary and
presidential elections in 2008 and would reduce the president's term
from six to five years. Some consider the deal a first step in lifting
the country from its economic and political malaise.
The amendments also are expected to re-draw electoral boundaries,
increase the number of representatives and move up parliamentary
elections by two years.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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