Zimbabwe church leader calls for uprising against Mugabe

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Catholic archbishop in Zimbabwe urged followers to start a non-violent, popular uprising against the country's president, Robert Mugabe. Archbishop Pius Ncube on Sunday told a South African newspaper that he hopes that Mugabe will be ousted in the parliamentary elections that are scheduled for Thursday.

Ncube is an outspoken critic of Mugabe's government. Ncube said, "I hope that people get so disillusioned that they really organise against the government and kick him out by a non-violent, popular, mass uprising". He believes that Thursday's vote will be rigged, ensuring victory for the currently ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF). The government was also recently criticized for implying that supporters of the opposition party will be denied food by the government's food distribution program.

Ncube's statements may be seen by the government as a call for unauthorized protest — a crime in Zimbabwe punishable by up to 20 years in jail. Ncube seems aware of the dangers of protests: "People must be ready even to risk losing their lives; everyone wants to keep safe," he said. The main opposition, Movement for Democratic Change, said that police arrested 200 demonstrators at a rally on Sunday.

Robert Mugabe has ruled the country since the end of white rule in the country in the 1980s.