BBC NewsAndrew Marr Show


Last Updated: Sunday, 9 December 2007, 10:59 GMT
Dramatic gesture
On Sunday 09 December Andrew Marr interviewed Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

The Archbishop of York cut up his dog collar and said he would not wear one again until Robert Mugabe is driven from power in Zimbabwe.

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York
Dr John Sentamu cut up his clerical collar in protest

ANDREW MARR: I'm joined now by one of President Mugabe's most outspoken critics here the Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

Welcome Archbishop. Thank you very much for coming in to join us.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Good morning Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: It was a difficult call that Gordon Brown had to make, whether to go or not. Did he do the right thing?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: In my mind he did. He gave warning about three months ago that if Mugabe was invited wasn't going to go.

Remember Blair in South Africa attended a conference of a similar kind and he actually challenged Mugabe like Angela Merkel has done and was shouted down by other African leaders.

So there is a sense in which you have a dialogue with the deaf. And I actually think that pure revulsion sometimes is a very good principle.

You know to be in the same room talking about governance, talking about human rights, when actually two people which, which just amazes me this morning in the Times - I don't know whether you, whether you've seen this - where you've got Bashir and Mugabe hand in hand.

I mean I know one is helping the other one to get somewhere but I said to myself these are people, both in Zimbabwe and Darfur actually ..

ANDREW MARR: With blood, bloodstained hands.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: With bloodstained hands. And they're holding hands together and looking quite cheerful.

ANDREW MARR: So this whole thing as far as you're concerned is far too cosy?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: It's far too cosy. It's far too cosy. You see why can't for example the South African leaders do the same thing like the West African leaders did to Charles Taylor in, you know in Liberia and actually said you can't come to our meetings. We have a consensus about you.

And actually in the end drove him out. So I don't understand why that can't happen.

ANDREW MARR: So what in concrete terms should be happening now? We've had this, this sort of dialogue of the deaf as you called it, Angela Merkel's said her thing, but what should actually be happening now to get Mugabe out? DR JOHN SENTAMU: We need the world to unite against Mugabe really and his regime.

Why, what I don't understand - they did it against Ian Smith, the world did it against apartheid South Africa.

Two black leaders are actually carrying out quite a lot of killing, very bad management, you know. Zimbabwe one time was a bread basket, has now become a basket, a basket case itself.

I can't understand why the same pressure on sanctions doesn't apply. You see when Mugabe says the economy has gone down simply because of what the West has done to his - no.

The sanctions are purely on travel and financial assistance to a hundred and thirty of his clique. That's all it is. And Britain also is the second largest donor of humanitarian aid.

So when he talks about because of this has happened - no. He's actually taken a country really into sheer chaos. And has been so brutal that in the long run the world has got to say if the South African people won't do it and the leaders of Africa have actually become sycophantic hero worshipers, something has got to happen.

ANDREW MARR: There's no chance whatever I, as I understand it, of military intervention in this situation. It's unclear who would militarily intervene. But the one country everyone agrees has huge influence is South Africa.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: No doubt. No doubt about it.

ANDREW MARR: Now does that mean in your view that much pressure should be coming on Thabo Mbeki in South Africa to do something?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: I suspect, because you see his, his card is, we are negotiating for the elections next year. But you and I know that those re-elections, whatever happens, are going to be rigged like they've been since Mugabe came to power. So South Africa's got to actually wake up to the fact that people there are starving. A lot of people are traumatised.

You know ... you see as an Anglican, this is what I wear to identify myself that I'm a clergyman. Do you know what Mugabe has done? He's taken people's identity and literally if you don't mind, cut it to pieces. This is what he's actually done, to a lot of - and in the end there's nothing. So as far as I'm concerned from now on I'm not going to wear a dog collar until Mugabe's gone.

ANDREW MARR: My goodness. Archbishop that is a, that is a dramatic gesture. And everybody will observe it. Are you going to carry on talking to the prime minister here? Are you going to go and talk to the South Africans and continue to make these points?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: I have been writing and I have been talking. And in the long run we need a world voice. And I hope that what Gordon Brown has done by not going pressure now will be put on Mugabe. You see there was an un-expectation that humanitarian United Nations group will visit every part.

The areas - a friend of mine has just returned from there and he said it's just so awful. People don't know where their next meals are going to come from. But of course Mugabe and his clique are living wonder.. wonderfully.

I've said yes to the prime minister, I don't understand why Britain doesn't have an intra-section instead of having an embassy. Why all the world don't do the same thing what they did to Libya at one point. Is it because this happens to be a black person? Because what is going on for me, there is this pernicious, self destructing racism. A white man does it the whole world cries.

A black person does it, there is a certain sense oh this is colonialism. I'm sorry I don't buy this. Africa and all the world have got to liberate Africa from this mental slavery and this colonial mentality - whenever there's anything you blame somebody else instead of yourself.

ANDREW MARR: And for all those people watching who've been moved by what you've just done, what can they do?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: I think what I want to say is what happened to, during the time of Ian Smith in this country and apartheid South Africa. We prayed. We marched, protested. We collected money. As Christmas comes around spare a pound, spare a pound for child starving in Darfur and in Zimbabwe.

Let this money be collected so that when a time comes people can actually have their houses and their homes rebuilt. And to me that's the greatest thing we can actually do as a nation.

ANDREW MARR: And people should be out on the streets as well presumably at appropriate moments to protest?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Appropriate moments. You see during, on every Good Friday the then Bishop of [inaudible] and I used to campaign outside South Africa, every Good Friday.

We never failed, come wind, come weather. And a time used to come when people actually have got to say to rely on African leaders to solve this with the exception of South Africa, we are really whistling in the dark. What needs to happen is a world voice saying enough is enough.

This cannot be tolerated. And to talk about partnership in trade with a leader like that - the same goes through for the leader of Sudan - I actually think is whistling in the dark.

ANDREW MARR: Well there's a Christmas message of a different kind. Archbishop thank you very much indeed for coming in to join us this morning.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Thank you Andrew. And keep my pieces by the way.

ANDREW MARR: I'll keep ...

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Collect them until the day when Zimbabwe is free.

ANDREW MARR: And then we'll give you them back.


ANDREW MARR: Thank you very much indeed.



Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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