Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 4, 2004
Archbishop briefs parliamentarians on Zimbabwe
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
He has received numerous death threats, had his phones tapped and his sermons monitored by government agents, but Archbishop Pius Ncube of Zimbabwe refuses to back away from his stinging criticisms of Robert Mugabe, the president of the south African country.
"I refuse to be silent," Ncube, 58, told ambassadors, high commissioners, members of Parliament and interfaith leaders on Parliament Hill Sept. 28. "My heart bleeds - I suffer a lot - when I see the lot of the common man in Zimbabwe," he said.
Ncube - who has been compared to Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa - is on an international tour, speaking out against the regime of Mugabe, 80, who has held onto power in Zimbabwe since 1979.
Power destroys poor
"I'm annoyed and upset when someone uses their power to trample on the disadvantaged, on the poor," said Ncube, the archbishop of Bulawayo.
Portrayed in the government-controlled Zimbabwean press as gay, a rapist and HIV-infected, Ncube, trained by Jesuits in the former Rhodesia, is undeterred. "I'm not one that's given to fighting and controversy," he said. "I love peace."
Until this year, Mugabe had portrayed the archbishop as mad and as a bishop who did not have the support of his fellow clerics.
But after Ncube went abroad in May to complain about problems in Zimbabwe, including an unemployment rate of 70 per cent, an inflation rate of 400 per cent and the AIDS epidemic, Mugabe called him an "unholy man" and accused him of the "satanic" betrayal of his own country.
The archbishop's current international campaign to muster opposition to the Mugabe regime has included briefings with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Prince Charles.
In Ottawa, as he has elsewhere, Ncube criticized Zimbabwean Catholic bishops and other Church leaders who support the Mugabe regime amid "mounting evidence of human rights abuses."
Bishops take gifts
The archbishop said some Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe have received gifts from the government, such as Mercedes Benz cars, and that he himself was offered a farm. The gifts are expected to bring silence from the clerics, he said. "When you're being fed, you're not expected to talk."
Ncube's briefing and the discussion period that followed was organized by the all-party Interfaith Committee of the Canadian Parliament.
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