UNITED METHODIST LEADERS RESPOND TO MUZOREWA ARREST
by Malik Stan Reaves
New York, New York, United States
November 8, 1983
Press release issued by the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church concerning the recent arrest of Zimbabwe's United Methodist bishop, Abel Muzorewa. Muzorewa was jailed on October 31 in Harare on suspicion of having subversive links with South Africa. He was reported to be on a hunger strike in the central jail, where he was being held incommunicado. The Board has sent two officers to Zimbabwe, and church officials have sent telegrams requesting intercession on Muzorewa’s behalf to the U.S. president and secretary of state, the president and prime minister of Zimbabwe, the president of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, and the secretary general of the United Nations. Drs. Isaac Bivens and Negail Riley are expected to report to the United Methodist Council of Bishops. Dr. Randolph Nugent, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, said that Bishop Muzorewa had been charged with subversion, but the high court in Zimbabwe had reduced the charge to having relations with South Africa. The bishop had recently been on a trip to Egypt and Israel for what he described as "Bible study." The trip took on political overtones when he severely criticized the Mugabe government and was quoted on Israeli television as calling on Zimbabwe to establish diplomatic ties with Israel. The Zimbabwe government has refused to recognize Israel because of its military cooperation with South Africa. Prime Minister Robert Mugabe accused the bishop of going to Israel to conspire with Israel and South Africa to destabilize Zimbabwe's government. Bishop Muzorewa denied the charge and said he advocated closer economic relations to take advantage of Israel's advanced technology. He also charged at a news conference that the Mugabe government was more oppressive than the white-minority rule of former Prime Minister Ian Smith. The United African National Council charged that Mugabe had arrested the bishop as part of a drive to muzzle political opponents, particularly so-called "subversive elements'' with ties to South Africa. Police are said to have been searching Muzorewa's house for evidence since his arrest.
Collection: Private collection of Malik Stan Reaves