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Green Bomber militias threaten Zimbabwe Catholics: Ncube

Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube says that Government-backed "Green Bomber" militias are seeking to intimidate voters ahead of Zimbabwe elections next year with Catholics around the country also facing threats.

Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, a long time critic of Mugabe's government, said that the attacks by the militias were part of a strategy of intimidation ahead of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections, IRIN reports.

"The Green Bombers (militias from youth training centres) are being used to go around to strike fear in voters so that, come next year, they will be forced to vote ZANU-PF," Ncube said, referring to the governing political party of President Robert Mugabe.

Ncube said members of his church were being harassed throughout the country and recounted a recent incident in the south-western border town of Plumtree where he had prevented ZANU-PF militias from gatecrashing a meeting he was holding with priests in the area.

He said a priest was subsequently arrested in Wedza, Mashonaland Central, for distributing the pastoral letter while members of his congregation were also detained for questioning by state security agents.

In Mashonaland East province, traditionally a ruling party stronghold, parishioners are opting to stay at home rather than attend church after militias threatened them for distributing the pastoral letter.

"They [militias] are accusing us of being members of the MDC [Movement for Democratic Change] and working to topple the government.

"It's no longer safe to worship because the militias treat you as enemies," said 55-year-old Fr Tirivafi Haka, who declined to use his real name, a church leader in Murewa, about 90km east of the capital, Harare.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the National Council of Churches National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) has added its voice to the call for a free and democratic Zimbabwe after learning of the atrocities perpetrated in the African nation, the Catholic Leader reports.

NATSIEC executive secretary Graeme Mundine said in a statement it was evident that there was a problem with the lack of democratic process in the country.

"Zimbabwe is also experiencing large scale poverty within the country, which particularly affects our Indigenous brothers and sisters," he said.

NATSIEC has asked its representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Peter Smith, to make representations on the issue of Zimbabwe.

Pro-government militias launch intimidation campaign against Catholics (Reuters Alertnet, 31/5/07)
NATSIEC to lobby UN on Zimbabwe (Catholic Leader, 3/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Robert Mugabe (Wikipedia)
Pius Ncube (Wikipedia)

Bishops back Zimbabwe cricket boycott (CathNews, 11/5/07)
Zimbabwe bishops on "dangerous path", Mugabe warns (CathNews, 7/5/07)
Zimbabwe bishops end "criminal silence" on Mugabe (CathNews, 11/4/07)
Zimbabwe dialogue still possible, African bishops say (CathNews, 4/4/07)
"Ready to face bullets", Zimbabwean archbishop says (CathNews, 23/3/07)
Zimbabwe Church accuses S Africa over failure to act (CathNews, 21/3/07)
Zimbabwe prayer meeting crushed (CathNews, 13/3/07)
Millions facing starvation in Zimbabwe , Archbishop warns (CathNews, 28/11/06)
Archbishop's report exposes Zimbabwean homelessness debacle (CathNews, 1/9/06)
Zimbabwe's anti-terrorism bill threatens freedom, says Justice and Peace director (CathNews, 28/7/06)
Bishops denounce Zimbabwe "clean-up" (CathNews, 20/6/05)


1 Jun 2007