Critic of Mugabe quits over scandal

By staff writers
September 12, 2007

Fierce critic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Pius Ncube, has resigned as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo after a sex scandal involving a married woman.

State television repeatedly screened images in July purporting to show Ncube, 60, in bed with Rosemary Sibanda, who worked for his diocese.

They are believed to have been filmed by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) who planted a camera in the ceiling of the archbishop's bedroom.

State media were reportedly preparing to publish more damaging allegations.

The bishop, who has called for the people of Zimbabwe to rise up against President Mugabe, is fighting a Z$20bn (£80,000) lawsuit brought by Mrs Sibanda's husband, Onesimus.

In a statement, Ncube said he tendered his resignation to the Pope in July within days of "what was obviously a state-driven, vicious attack not just on myself, but by proxy on the Catholic church in Zimbabwe".

"It is my feeling that I should face this case in court as Pius Ncube, an individual, not that the holy Catholic church of God should seem to be on trial because I am its head," he said.

The Vatican said in a one-sentence statement that Pope Benedict had accepted the archbishop's resignation under an article of church law concerning clergy who are unable to perform their duties for health reasons. It has also been used to remove clerics who brought their office into disrepute.

Mr Ncube said he will "continue to speak out on the issues that sadly become more acute by the day".

"I have not been silenced by the crude machinations of a wicked regime," he said.

"I know that there will be many of you who will be bitterly disappointed at my leaving my post as archbishop of Bulawayo - and a few who will be delighted, seeing their mission as having been accomplished," he said.

President Mugabe has revelled in the scandal. At several public gatherings he berated the bishop as an "adulterer and a liar".

Some activists believe he will enter full-time politics.

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