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Zimbabwe bishops say attacks on Ncube an ‘assault’ on the church


The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference has strongly condemned recent attacks by Zimbabwe politicians and government media on Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, who is facing adultery charges.

"The recent attacks by some politicians and the State media on the person of Archbishop Pius Ncube are outrageous and utterly deplorable," a 3 September statement from the bishops said.  "They constitute an assault on the Catholic Church, to which we take strong exception."

The statement did not name specific politicians.  An editorial in the 31 August edition of the State-run Herald newspaper, however, said Ncube, "turned the house of God into a brothel that he used on numerous occasions for sexual liaisons with different women".

The bishops’ statement is the first official comment on the issue by the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe since the deputy sheriff of the High Court, accompanied by government journalists, issued a 20 million Zimbabwe dollar summons against Ncube on 16 July.  At the time, this amount was about US$160 000, but it is difficult to tell what the figure is today after official figures on 22 August revealed Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate now stands at more than 7 600 percent.

The bishops’ conference reported on 23 August that it had begun its own investigation into the charges of adultery against Ncube.  The latest statement did not indicate the results of the investigations.

The bishops said that because the matter was now before the High Court, it should not be discussed in public until a verdict was delivered by the courts.  They said the publication over many days by the state media of pictures purported to have been taken secretly in Ncube’s bedroom violated his "most fundamental" personal rights.

Ncube, archbishop of Zimbabwe’s second city, has been an outspoken critic of President Robert Mugabe and his government.

In their statement, the bishops said, "We repeat what we said in our recent Pastoral Letter: The people of Zimbabwe are suffering.  Their freedom and fundamental human rights are violated daily with impunity, the shelves of the shops and supermarkets are empty, our currency has become worthless, the public health service has collapsed, the country’s main roads are lined with tens of thousands of citizens waiting for public transport, corruption is rampant and young people are risking their lives daily in growing numbers to escape the catastrophe that our country has become."

Ecumenical News International