Zimbabwean archbishop says he's ready to die to defend people

Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo said he would rather die than stay silent in the face of widespread human rights abuses in his country.

"I am ready to stand before a gun and be shot," Archbishop Ncube told Britain's Channel 4 News in an interview from Vatican City.

Catholic News Service reports that the archbishop, a longtime critic of President Robert Mugabe, said the president should be arrested and tried before an international court for destroying shantytowns and leaving some 275,000 poor Zimbabweans homeless in an attempt to force the residents to return to rural areas.

Mugabe's Operation Drive Out Trash has been widely condemned by Zimbabwean church leaders and the international community.

Archbishop Ncube's interview with the television station came after the African Union rejected calls from the UK and the US to intervene in the crisis.

He condemned the African Union as a "club" that was refusing to act because it resented the economic and political power of the West. He singled out South Africa for criticism in particular.

"Prime Minister Mbeki (of South Africa) has lost all reputation in Zimbabwe for supporting a dictator who is killing his own people," he said.

The archbishop said he could not understand why the international community will not intercede given the persistent human rights abuses led by Mugabe against ordinary Zimbabweans.

"We have some mad people in this world. For instance we have seen what happened in Rwanda. People are standing around, the UN standing around, the African countries did nothing about it and 1 million people perished. We want another Rwanda to take place due to a mad man who is just after power? Why can't we help a situation?" he asked.

The archbishop said that he was frequently followed, and expected to be under tighter surveillance when he returns to Zimbabwe.

"I am aware of the dangerous situation of speaking up but that is the only thing I can do -- to speak up for the people. I'll go back there. I am so angry. I am ready to stand before a gun and be shot," he said.

Godfrey Magwenzi, the charge d'affairs and deputy head of the Zimbabwean Consulate in London, told Channel 4 News that nobody in Zimbabwe took Archbishop Ncube seriously.

"The sewage and filth that spills out of that man's mouth should shame and embarrass all men of the cloth," he said.

Zimbabwean archbishop says he's ready to die in defense of people (Catholic News Service 24/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference | Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace

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Archbishop Ncube "ready to die" for his people (Independent Catholic News 27/6/05)
London church holds service for Zimbabwean torture victims (Independent Catholic News 27/6/05)
Zimbabwean archbishop says he's ready to die in defence of people (The Universe 27/6/05)
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Bishops Conference expresses support and solidarity with Bishops of Zimbabwe (Catholic Church in England & Wales 21/6/05)
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Zimbabwe: weakest suffer most under Mugabe demolitions (Independent Catholic News 24/6/05)
Mugabe scorns Western 'demonisation' (The Age 26/6/05)
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Zimbabwean Bishops Decry Government Program Against the Poor (Zenit 23/6/05)

28 Jun 2005