Archbishop Ncube Denies Allegation of Plot Against Mugabe

Zimbabwean Prelate Persecuted by Pro-government Newspaper

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HARARE, Zimbabwe, JUNE 19, 2003 ( Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo rejected allegations made by a pro-Mugabe newspaper about his recent visit to the United States and meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In statements to the Misna missionary agency, Archbishop Ncube said he had gone to the United States on a human rights trip.

The Chronicle newspaper on May 22 reported that the archbishop held a two-hour meeting with Powell to discuss how the United States could intervene to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from power.

In fact, the meeting lasted only 25 minutes, the archbishop said. «It was a courtesy call, arranged for me by some of my friends who are concerned about human rights and the peace process globally and in Zimbabwe in particular,» he said.

The archbishop, known for his strong stance for human rights, said there was no talk of a change of government in Zimbabwe, but rather concern about the humanitarian crisis of starvation.

«I affirmed that feeding programs by the World Food Program in both rural and urban areas were still necessary in Zimbabwe,» he said. The prelate urged the WFP to help feed 3 million hungry people in the southern African nation of 11.3 million.

Archbishop Ncube also denied the Chronicle’s report that he received a reward from Powell for his stance against the government. The newspaper in the past has labeled the archbishop a tribalist and a politician. In April the same paper spread rumors that he was about to form a political party.

«I do not preach politics from the pulpit as they allege,» Archbishop Ncube said. «I preach that all of us are made in the image of God and our government has a duty to respect us.»

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