18 August 2006

Zimbabwe: Pius Ncube Scoffs At Overtures to Church Leaders

OUTSPOKEN Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, has scoffed at President Robert Mugabe's overtures to church leaders to help him rally the people behind government's efforts to turn around the economy.

Ncube, a fierce critic of Mugabe's policies, also dismissed the veteran politician's Heroes Day message which extended gratitude to faith-based organisations for their role in helping disseminate a positive image about his regime.

"His talk is mere empty talk and we will not bow down to that nonsense," Ncube said on Wednesday.

"It's all part of his (Mugabe) slyness. He is a very manipulative man, I know so because I have been to his house once. He served us hot tea and greeted me in my mother's tongue, most probably to placate me."

The archbishop, who has crossed swords with Mugabe on several occasions about his misrule, added that his problem with government is rooted in its tactics aimed at enticing the church to peddle lies on its behalf while the masses suffer.

"My problem with these people is that they want us to be hypocrites and tell lies that the situation is normal when it is not. There is hunger, inflation is very high and school fees continue to rise. How will the people survive?" Ncube said.

He said the only positive thing to date was the resilience of Zimbabweans because they "are peace-loving and have had to put up with government nonsense".

Speaking at the Heroes Acre this week, Mugabe paid tribute to churches for conveying a message of solidarity with government.

"I wish to applaud the well-intended efforts of our churches, represented by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference for helping to disseminate the all-important message of Pamberi neZimbabwe, Phambili leZimbabwe, Forward with Zimbabwe," said Mugabe.

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