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Crude machinations of wicked regime will not silence me, says Ncube

Zim Online

Tuesday 11 September 2007

By Pius Ncube

BULAWAYO - Today the Vatican will publicise their acceptance of an offer of
resignation tendered to them by myself in July.

I wrote to the Pope within days of what was obviously a state-driven,
vicious attack not just on myself, but by proxy on the Catholic Church in
Zimbabwe.

In order to spare my fellow Bishops and the body of the Church any further
attacks, I decided this was the best course of action. It has been necessary
for me to wait for the Vatican to acknowledge my resignation before making
it public.

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.

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.

To the many thousands of Catholics and ordinary Zimbabweans as well as those
in the international community who have stood by me in my hour of need, who
have offered their prayers and stood in solidarity with me, I thank you all
from the depths of my heart.

I remain a Catholic Bishop in Zimbabwe, and will continue to speak out on
the issues that sadly become more acute by the day.

I am committed to the Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and see my decision as
opening up new opportunities to serve Him through serving the poor and
suffering of Zimbabwe, who sadly become more numerous and more impoverished
every day.

I remain unshakably committed to the Mission declared by Christ: "The Spirit
of the Lord is upon me for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the
afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the
blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the
Lord". [Luke 4: 18-19].

Recent events have brought me closer to God and have given me a clearer
sense of mission.

I have not been silenced by the crude machinations of a wicked regime. I am
committed to promoting the social teachings of the Church, and to working
among the poorest and most needy in Zimbabwe.

My wish is to be a lowly servant of all: as stated by Jesus, "I came not to
be served, but to serve."á [Matthew 20:28]

I will use my experiences working among the people to lobby for greater
humanitarian support, in particular for food and medical supplies at this
time of extreme national crisis.

I have various options available at the moment, both within the Church and
within the civic movement, and will decide in the next few weeks which will
provide the best platform to continue with God's work.

My passion is to get closer to God through prayer and to preach the Gospel
so that people move away from selfishness to care for God and others, and to
fight for human rights.

"Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Gospel to all creation." [Mark
16:15].

May God bless and be with all of us.

By Pius Ncube


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Zimbabwean varsity on its knees

Zim Online

Wednesday 12 September 2007

ááááá By Farisai Gonye

ááááá HARARE - A crisis is brewing at Zimbabwe's oldest university after
only a quarter of the students turned up for a new semester that began this
week while acute accommodation and financial problems kept thousands others
away.

ááááá According to authoritative University of Zimbabwe (UZ) sources, about
25 percent of the returning students had so far registered for the new
semester.

ááááá The total UZ enrolment is around 10 500 students.

ááááá The sources said less than 400 new students had taken up their places
out of an expected intake of about 1 500.

ááááá Registration for new students began on 3 September.

ááááá Highlighting an all-round collapse of what was once one of Africa's
leading institutions of higher learning, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ)
might be forced to suspend lectures due to the shortage of students.

ááááá Thousands of students could not report for the new semester on Monday
because they had no accommodation in Harare or could not raise funds to pay
for university fees.

ááááá The university has called for an emergency meeting of the UZ senate
this week to discuss the latest development, according to sources.

ááááá The senate comprises the chairpersons of the UZ's various departments
and deans of faculties and reports to the council, the highest
decision-making body at the university.

ááááá Most of the children who failed to turn up are those from outside
Harare who were affected by a university decision earlier this year to
withdraw accommodation facilities.

ááááá UZ Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura has defied a standing High Court order
issued in July ordering him to re-open the halls of residence, maintaining
that the halls of residence are not habitable because of their bad state.

ááááá Citing City of Harare Department of Health Services recommendations,
the university last week insisted it would not offer accommodation
facilities to students.

ááááá About 4 000 students were legally staying at the university, although
student leaders say the number could be much higher as some students
resorted to "squatting" at the campus.

ááááá Nyagura could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of
the office.

ááááá But higher education minister Stan Mudenge confirmed a crisis was
brewing at the country's largest university.

ááááá "I hear there are some serious problems there. We will have to work
out a plan so that all students return and complete their programmes," said
Mudenge in a telephone interview.

ááááá Lecturers said they might have to cut on teaching hours "to cater for
those who can at least make it to college," most of whom would not be able
to arrive at the university on time because of a transport crisis affecting
the country.

ááááá Edwin Matunge, a Bachelor of Arts final year student, said he might
have to abandon his studies. He said he had nowhere to stay after the
withdrawal of accommodation facilities by the university.

ááááá He said the University Bible Fellowship, which offered them shelter
following the closure of the student hostels in May, was no longer able to
accommodate him and 11 other students.

ááááá "The South Koreans who run the Bible school have told us that all they
can offer us now is bus fare to go back home if we can't find alternative
accommodation," he said.

ááááá Shorai Mutimbe, a 20-year-old social sciences student, said she would
have to walk eight kilometres from Bluff Hill suburb to the university daily
as the aunt who had offered her accommodation could not take care of her
transport costs.

ááááá "At least I am lucky I have somewhere to stay while I complete my
studies," she said.

ááááá Zimbabwe's education system, once the pride of Africa, has over the
years been on a steady decline.

ááááá Teachers at public schools have refused to teach until the government
lifts a salary freeze imposed last month and offer them a substantial pay
increase.

ááááá A serious food shortage affecting the country has also forced schools
with boarding facilities to send students back home after failing to find
adequate supplies to feed the children.

ááááá Others have asked parents to provide food for their children to avoid
starvation. - ZimOnline


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War veterans petition Mugabe over food aid

Zim Online

Wednesday 12 September 2007

By Lizwe Sebatha

BULAWAYO - War veterans in Mberengwa have petitioned President Robert Mugabe
to reprimand local Member of Parliament and Agriculture Minister Rugare
Gumbo whom they accuse of using food handouts to punish ruling ZANU PF party
rivals in the district.

The war veterans accuse Gumbo of denying wards that opposed his candidature
in the 2005 parliamentary elections access to food obtained from the Grain
Marketing Board under a government scheme to support drought-stricken
villagers.

War veterans' leader and ZANU PF chairperson for Mberengwa East district
Rudo Chakona yesterday said the letter to Mugabe was sent a fortnight ago.

"War veterans are not happy with Gumbo because he is using his portfolio to
fix those wards that were against his candidature in the 2005 elections by
denying them food," said Chakona.

Gumbo denies the allegations.

"All those you say are complaining about me should approach me as their MP
than to rush to the President," Gumbo said yesterday.

Chakona said Nyamhondo and Garenyama wards in the district were the worst
affected areas.

The war veterans' leader said the food denial was punishment for the two
areas' open support for Godwill Shiri, Gumbo's rival in the ZANU PF
primaries ahead of the 2005 parliamentary polls.

Shiri was eventually expelled from the ruling party for standing as an
independent candidate in the parliamentary elections in 2005 after
contesting that Gumbo had rigged the primary elections.

Gumbo had earlier lost the primary elections before a re-run was ordered.

This is the latest case of factional fighting in the fractious Mberengwa
East, which was last year rocked by the suspension of three senior officials
accused on allegations of indiscipline.

Gumbo later accused ZANU PF chairman John Nkomo and political commissar
Elliot Manyika of fuelling the divisions in his constituency after they
suspended three Mberengwa East District Coordinating Committee (DCC) members
aligned to him on allegations of indiscipline.

He has continued to work with the suspended DCC members in defiance of Nkomo
and Manyika, arguing that their suspension was illegitimate.

Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and
human rights groups have in the past accused ZANU PF party officials of
denying food aid to opposition supporters as punishment for failing to back
the ruling party. ZANU PF has in the past denied the charge. - ZimOnline


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Church leader quizzed for organising pastors' workshop

Zim Online

Wednesday 12 September 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - A Zimbabwean clergyman was on Monday picked up for questioning by
feared state security agents for allegedly organising a pastors' workshop in
Masvingo town last weekend.

The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents picked up Reverend
Sonykis Chimbuya, the chairman of the Pastors' Forum, accusing him of
holding an illegal anti-government meeting last Saturday and Sunday.

At least 24 pastors from Pentecostal churches attended the meeting that was
held at the Glen Livert Hotel, 20km east of Masvingo, to discuss problems
affecting disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe.

The CIO agents were riled after they discovered that the meeting sought to
discuss contentious issues such as the controversial government slum
clearing exercise, Operation Murambatsvina, and the Gukurahundi atrocities
that saw over 20 000 ethnic Ndebeles being massacred during the early 1980s.

"I was picked up for questioning by members of the CIO on Monday. They
wanted to know what we were discussing at the meeting.

"The CIO agents later handed me to CID (Criminal Investigations Department)
officers who claimed that the meeting had not been cleared by the police,"
said Chimbuya.

Chimbuya said he told the agents that as a church group, they did not need
to apply for police clearance when conducting church services as required by
Zimbabwe's security laws.

Under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Zimbabweans must first seek
permission from the police before gathering in groups of more than three
people to discuss politics.

An increasingly jittery President Robert Mugabe's government has over the
past seven years used the tough security law to stifle legitimate political
activities around the country.

"As churches, we have a right to discuss such issues (as Operation
Murambatsvina and the Gukurahundi massacres) because they are affecting our
communities. Personally I do not see anything wrong with that.

"We are living in constant fear as church leaders since it appears we have
become targets for state repression. We are no longer free to discuss
anything in our Motherland but we hope one day, the situation will improve,"
Chimbuya said.

Police in Masvingo confirmed interrogating the clergyman in connection with
the "illegal" workshop, adding that the police will summon the churchman
when they gather enough evidence that a crime was committed.

"Yes, it is true that we wanted to know something from Chimbuya in
connection with the workshop he organized over the weekend," said a police
officer who identified herself as Assistant Inspector Ndlovu.

This is the second time that Chimbuya has had a brush with the law this
year. Earlier this year, Chimbuya was arrested on allegations of
distributing opposition Movement for Democratic Change campaign material.

It was however later established that Chimbuya was simply distributing
sweets and toys to children in Masvingo. - ZimOnline


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Civic group rallies behind embattled cleric

Zim Online

Wednesday 12 September 2007

By Nqobizitha Khumalo

BULAWAYO - Zimbabweans have reacted with shock over Tuesday's resignation of
Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube who is fighting a Z$20 billion lawsuit
for alleged adultery.

The cleric, who is a fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe's government,
resigned from the Bulawayo diocese after the Vatican acceded to his
application for relief of duties.

In a statement released yesterday, the Archbishop Pius Ncube Solidarity
Coalition, a group bringing together about 60 civic organisations, said it
would continue backing the archbishop all the way despite the resignation.

"While we are deeply distressed about the resignation of Archbishop Ncube,
we take comfort in the fact that he is going to continue his campaign for
democracy, justice and freedom. He is an important voice that must always be
heard.

"His resignation confirmed what we have always said. That he is a democrat
at heart and down to the soul. Rather than undermining and harming his
democratic credentials, his resignation enhances them," said the group.

In a statement released to the media yesterday, Ncube said he was stepping
down to the spare the Catholic Church from further attacks from President
Mugabe's government that he accused of waging a fierce propaganda war
against him.

Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe leader Reverend Trevor Manhanga said it
was difficult to make judgments on the Ncube case as the resignation sent
difference messages to different audiences.

"The resignation by the Archbishop is not clear on whether it was a decision
reached after realizing that there was moral failure or it was just a
decision to deal with the courts.

"The role of the church is to accept those that have sinned and repented
after confessing their sins. But here it is difficult to tell whether the
Archbishop resigned on moral grounds or not," Manhanga said.

Zimbabwe information minister and chief government spokesperson Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu could not be reached for comment on allegations that Harare had
hounded out the Catholic archbishop.

Ordinary Zimbabweans who spoke to ZimOnline said they were disappointed by
Ncube's resignation.

Thabo Sibanda, a Bulawayo resident, said the resignation was not necessary
since Ncube had weathered the storm created by state security agents.

"This is disappointing and it will create an impression that the Archbishop
is guilty. He should have continued without resigning until his case went to
court," Sibanda said.

Another Bulawayo resident Robert Nyoni however said Archbishop Ncube's
resignation was noble and long overdue.

"Archbishop Ncube's decision to resign is noble since it will give him more
time to deal with his court case without interfering with God's work and we
wish him good luck with his case," he said. - ZimOnline


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Sparing With Food Assistance, Harare Splashes Out On Luxury Cars For Top Officials

VOA

ááááá By Patience Rusere and Blessing Zulu
ááááá Washington
ááááá 11 September 2007

The government of Zimbabwe last week earmarked some US$11 million for food
aid to an increasingly hungry population - but meanwhile it's splashing out
more than US$20 million to buy luxury vehicles and SUVs for ministers and
members of parliament.

Harare's allocation of Z$347 billion dollars for food aid in the
supplementary budget it took to parliament last week will only pay for about
36,000 metric tonnes of grain out of the estimated 450,000 to 500,000 tonnes
needed to feed the country for the next three months - in other words less
than 10% of the fourth-quarter requirement.

That Z$347 billion translates into some US$11million dollars at the official
exchange rate of Z$30,000 for one U.S. dollar. Meanwhile, grain on the world
market is running between US$300 and US$350 per metric tonne, agricultural
experts said.

The government said it's targeting some 600,000 households, or some 3.6
million people, according to the experts, who figure six people per
household.

While that food aid allocation does not seem likely to go far, International
Emergency Adviser Zvidzai Muburutse of ActionAid told reporter Patience
Rusere that Harare will bend backwards to provide food to ensure support
ahead of next year's elections.

However, agriculture spokesman Renson Gasela of the Movement for Democratic
Change faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai said that whatever the government
does the food situation will remain dire, because there is still a shortfall
in donor assistance that must offset most of the country's nutritional
deficit.

Meanwhile, Harare is importing vehicles for the president, his ministers,
members of the house and senate, and traditional chiefs at a cost of more
than US$17million .

Adding in another 150 vehicles for army officers - Toyota SUVs and Mercedes
cars - plus vehicles for the ruling party election campaign, the total being
spent on vehicles for senior officials approaches something like US$25
million, more than twice what's been allocated in the official budget for
food aid for the rest of this year.

Finance Ministry sources said President Robert Mugabe's top of the line
Mercedes Benz S600 cost around US$250,000. His ministers are getting
Mercedes Benz E240 sedans and Toyota Land Cruiser Prados. An official at the
Zimbabwe Motor Company said Mercedes E240s cost some 53,000 euros each, or
around US$73,000.

Senators and house members must settle for vehicles costing less than US$30
000.

Director Godfrey Kanyenze of the Labor and Economic Development Research
Institute told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
with an election on the horizon, and factionalism on the rise inside
ZANU-PF, President Mugabe will give priority to appeasing senior ruling
party officials.


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Zimbabwe Teachers Launch New Strike Ahead Of Warning Deadline

VOA

ááááá By Jonga Kandemiiri
ááááá Washington
ááááá 11 September 2007

Members of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe went on strike Monday
though the union's 14-day warning to the government had not yet expired.

Teachers belonging to the union are reporting for duty, but not giving
instruction, said PTUZ sources. Members of the Zimbabwe Teachers
Association, considered closer to the government, said they awaited guidance
from organizers before taking action.

But a ZIMTA official ruled out a strike, saying the association is still in
discussions with the government. The PTUZ wants a minimum salary of Z$15
million (US$70) a month compared with Z$2.9 million at present, plus a Z$4
million housing allowance and a Z$5.2 million allowance to meet skyrocketing
transportation costs.

The PTUZ strike notice officially runs out September 17.

Asked why his members went on strike early, PTUZ General Secretary Raymond
Majongwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the teachers could not postpone their financial distress any longer.


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Only political solution for Zimbabwe crisis

New Zimbabwe

By Tendai Biti
Last updated: 09/12/2007 07:30:18
POOR Sam Mumbengegwi! Some men are gifted enough to hide their mediocrity or
at least to hide the mediocrity of their work. But alas, the talentless
Minister of Finance possesses neither attribute.

The supplementary budget presented on September 6, 2007, is an indictment
not just on the person of Mumbengegwi but on the regime in Harare.

That the supplementary budget can exceed the original budget presented in
December 2006 by 800 percent betrays a fundamental lack of elementary
understanding of the nuts and bolts of economics. But even more importantly,
it exposes the fact that the regime has no control over this failing economy
and worse still, that they do not care.

The very appointment of Mumbengegwi as a replacement of the affable and
whisky-loving Hebert Murerwa is a reflection that Robert Mugabe does not
give a hoot about basic economic housekeeping fundamentals such as budget
balancing and macro-economic stability.

A number of critical issues arise with this supplementary budget. The first
is that as a supplementary budget, it is not located in any policy or
ideological framework. The budget is a major fiscal tool that should be
grounded in some major policy framework.

The existing fiscal planning tool that this regime is nominally bound by is
the National Economic Develeopment Priority Programme (NEDPP) launched by
minister Rugare Gumbo in March 2006. The budget therefore should have been a
complementary tool for the objectives and roadmap designed in the NEDPP.
Sadly, the supplementary budget is not anchored on this. Instead, it is a
hotch-potch of contradictory and self-defeating policy tools.

Stripped to its bare bones, the supplementary budget betrays the
contradiction in the Zanu PF state between on one hand, the need to be loyal
to basic economic fundamentals and on the other, the power retention agenda
in which State resources will be spent without reason, logic or limit purely
for the purposes of maintaining and reproducing power.

Thus, whilst the Minister implicitly acknowledges the catalpetic effect that
a huge budget deficit has on inflation and fiscal discipline, he
nevertheless succumbs to the power retention agenda by producing a
supplementary budget that is loyal to this cause and this cause only.

One finds that the amounts allocated to the President's Office (which houses
the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation), the Ministry of Defence
and the Ministry of Home Affair, is a staggering $12,662 trillion, which is
33 percent of the supplementary budget. If one adds the traditional
government slush fund, the unallocated reserve under the Ministry of Finance
vote, of $2,4 trillion , then in fact the amount being allocated to the
securocrats, who are at the helm of this Vampire State, is 43 percent of the
supplementary budget.

The net effect of the expansionary fiscal deliquency is that there will be a
major increase in the stockpile of domestic debt from $8,1 trillion to at
least $16 trillion, in our view.

Furthermore, whilst a huge budget deficit does not necessarily have to be
destructive, ours is, given that more than 70 percent of that budget
consists of consumptive recurrent expenditure in the form of interest
payments and wages. To the extent that the budget deficit and the debt are
financed by domestic borrowings, the government has yet to engineer negative
interest rates with the consequent debilitating effect on savings.

What it means right now is that Zimbabwe is experiencing negative net
savings of -5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Without savings being
at least 30 percent of GDP, there is no way this regime, or any other
government for that matter, can resolve the supply side of the economy
through use of domestic resources. What it means therefore is that Mugabe's
policies have made this country more dependent on foreign inflows for the
recovery of our economy.

Put simply, the regime that has made sovereignty its national mantra has
stolen the economic sovereignty of this country.

A key question to be asked is how will this government finance this
supplementary budget? In answering this question, one must recognise the
minister's admission that of the cumulative revenue of $3,4 trillion
collected up to June 2007, 30,3 percent came from Value Added Tax (VAT).

But since 18 June 2007, when the government embarked on its crackdown on
prices, or Ginyanomics as we called it, the receipts from VAT have shrunk by
more than 80 percent as a result of that ill-advised adventure.

The situation is going to get worse in view of the enactment, through
Presidential Powers, of the new price control regulations SI 159A/2007.

However, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the
regime has set itself up for further printing of money. With all the
disastrous consequences associated with this treasonous act, the act of
printing money has unashamedly been glorified to the status of a
revolutionary achievement!

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, defending the same in the
latest edition of the banal NewAfrican magazine, states as follows:

"Only the bull-fighter knows what goes on in the ring......We are guided by
conviction and not convention, and where convention meets conviction, well
and good. What drives us is the belief that we are doing the correct
thing..."

That is Zanu PF economics for you!

Moreover, the fact that the supplementary budget is presented without
disclosing the estimated revenue is quite clearly dangerous and
unacceptable. In any case, it is an implicit breach of the provisions of
section 103 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which requires full disclosure
of both the revenue and expenditure components in an Appropriation Bill.

A further glaring contradiction of the budget statement is the devaluation
of the Zimbabwe dollar by 12 000 percent. As we have argued before, any
devaluation done that is disconnected to an overall supply side strategy
engendered by a comprehensive fiscal and monetary policy, is meaningless. It
will simply exacerbate the crisis. The same is true of this devaluation.

Firstly, it is unrealistic given that the parallel market rate of the
Zimbabwe dollar is $250 000 to the US dollar. There is no chance therefore
that the latest move will have any meaningful effect towards stimulation of
exports. All it will do is to add further distortions on the exchange rate
matrix.

The same is true of the move to increase the minimum tax threshold to $4
million. Given that the Poverty Datum Line is $8,5 million, $4 million
becomes an insult. Moreover, another pertinent question is whether there is
still a significant number of people in formal employment.

The supplementary budget fails to acknowledge the quasi-fiscal activities
that have become a favourite pastime at the RBZ, which quasi-fiscal
activities have never been scrutinized by Parliament.

In the 2006 financial year, the amount of money spent by the RBZ in
quasi-fiscal activities was $370, 9 billion, which was at par with the
national budget presented by Hebert Murerwa, who then paid a price for the
full disclosure of those activities by being fired.

Quite clearly, the out-of-depth Mumbengegwi has neither the courage nor
reason to demanding full disclosure from the RBZ. The point being made is
that the national debt and the budget deficit in real terms are much higher
than what has so far been disclosed.

Furthermore, it means that the push on inflation and the further
impoverishment of the ordinary Zimbabwean will increase. Put simply, we are
in a rut!

One cannot run an economy on the basis of throwing lots or consulting
sangomas. At least under Simba Makoni, there was an element of comprehension
of rudimentary economics, but unfortunately the economics of failure has
been replaced by unpredictable sangomanomics.

Clearly, the task at hand is beyond the chubby and overfed fellows at number
80 Samora Machel Avenue in Harare and at Munhumutapa building in the same
street. As we have argued before, only a political solution, predicated on a
new, people driven Constitution and free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, is
a starting point to the resolution of the multi-faceted Zimbabwean crisis.

Otherwise this house has fallen!

Hon Tendai Biti, MP is MDC Secretary General of the MDC faction led by
Morgan Tsvangirai


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Apart from bad judgment, Ncube is a hero

New Zimbabwe

By Mthulisi Mathuthu

Last updated: 09/12/2007 06:03:15
NEWS of Archbishop Pius Ncube's resignation would have come as no surprise
to those who have been following the cleric's story since he was sucked into
a very unpious sex scandal.

Whatever the outcome of the pending adultery lawsuit against him is going to
be, it goes without saying that whoever planned the whole exercise of
filming the bishop's bedroom exploits had done their homework to the last
detail.

The obvious motive of this operation was to cause enough damage through a
splash of a glut of photographs and videos that would cast a permanent
shadow over the bishop's history and future work.

It is not wholly wrong then to say the archbishop has done the honourable
thing to resign and save his Church from shame, and to win back public
support that would have permanently evaporated if he had chosen to be his
granite self in the face of a well-orchestrated plot executed with
breathtaking skill by the state media and Robert Mugabe's security men.

To us, the bishop has paid his price. It is wrong to bed a married woman,
and even more scandalous for a man of the cloth to conduct himself in a
manner such as the bishop is alleged to have done.

Be that as it may, the effort to cast a permanent shadow over the cleric's
record collapses of its own accord. Here is a man, who despite his own
faults has remained consistent in his criticism of an evil regime that has
never, even for a day, cared about the suffering of the country's poor.

What he condemned more than 20 years ago remains prevalent up to this day.
In the early 1980's, Ncube was amongst the clerics who confronted President
Mugabe with evidence of state terror against the ordinary people in the
Midlands and the Matabeleland regions.

He remained resolute right up to this date in his conviction that Mugabe's
regime was not about prosperity nor was it was about liberation. For
standing up for us all, Ncube took fierce criticism and shocking
name-calling, including from the First Person himself - Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe labelled the clerics as "a band of Jeremiahs' prophesying for Joshua
Nkomo".

Of particular concern to Ncube and those like him was the state's penchant
for blood spilling, blackmail and deceit as a measure to destroy political
opposition. It was the universal silence in the face of clear-cut state
terrorism.

For the archbishop to have chosen that path at a time when many of today's
so-called pro-democracy activists were praising Mugabe, proved he was and
still is a brave and courageous man.

Today Mugabe's quarrelsome-brand of politics remains firmly in place and on
the march. Nothing has changed, only that the players have changed here and
there. It's still the same old way of thuggishly silencing dissent and
diverting public attention from the real issues.

Thanks to Ncube, his colleagues then and the opposition of that time, we
trace the current wave of universal scepticism about Mugabe's rule -- for
what is it which today's human rights defenders and the opposition
politicians are saying which Ncube didn't question yesterday?

The bishop may have fallen, but his word hasn't and will never fall for it
shall remain true that Mugabe has not been good for Zimbabwe.

It shall remain true that we have today in Zimbabwe some clerics who are
working hand in glove with a discredited government to undermine the march
of democracy.

It shall remain true that somewhere in the din of the clamour for change is
hidden the sinister voices of those who are in the government's payroll,
some of whom may have played a role in the filming of the bishop's
bedroom -- itself a gross abuse of a person's right to privacy.

Historians will in future look at the story of Ncube as a brave, na´ve man.
Brave because he stood for the truth at a time when Mugabe was a "hero" for
many who today pretend they never fantasised about him as a democrat.

He refused to sail with the wind and listen to the lily-livered clerics who
chose to remain silent when Mugabe's cohorts were plunging terror into the
twin towers of freedom and liberty.

No doubt today his fall will be used by his enemies within the ecumenical
movement-as a reason to fear the truth which is what the government wants.
Na´ve? Yes. Here is a man whose fall was triggered by nothing but naivetÚ --á
the failure to notice that the moment you take things to the sewer with
Mugabe, you should gird your loins and watch out even in your toilet.

Mugabe has not only made his name in the sewers -- he literally resides
there. There is no gainsaying that the bishop's words had the blessing of
the world's powerful institutions, his church, politicians and the
governments and the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. All he needed was to be
intelligent enough not to slip into Mugabe's residence -- the sewer. But he
did, and he has paid for it.

Yet his word shall forever remain in the mouths of all those chasing
justice. His addage we will sing even at the risk of being labelled
'Jeremiahs'.

He is a first class human rights activist, a great man who did wrong and
paid the ultimate price. When will Mugabe finally be accountable?

Mthulisi Mathuthu is The New Zimbabwe news editor and can be contacted on
e-mail: mthulisi@newzimbabwe.com


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Zim faces genocide via hunger

The Star

Letter

September 12, 2007 Edition 1

As a Zimbabwe-watcher for the past four years, I have tried to inform
readers of the consistent and strikingly downward direction in which
President Robert Mugabe has taken his once-promising country.

At independence in 1980, many - including myself - were euphoric about this
new and exciting African country with enormous mineral resources; farming
abundance as a wheat, maize and tobacco exporter; the glorious Victoria
Falls as a top tourist attraction; plus its (then) erudite, intellectual
leader, Mugabe.

Now, 27 years later, we watch in despair as the country collapses into what
can only be described as the Zimbabwe Ruins.

I don't believe the world's people - including South Africans - have woken
up to the grim realities on our doorstep.

We are so busy applauding our "statesmanship" at the United Nations Security
Council (for exactly what, I don't know), that we fail to notice that
millions of poverty-stricken Zimbabweans are searching in vain for bread,
milk, sugar, cooking oil and the staple maize meal.

Fuel is almost extinct. Hunger stalks the land and many will probably die
from malnutrition and lack of basic food.

Clean water is scarce. Run-away inflation, I'm reliably informed, has
reached 40 000%.

Mugabe's schoolboy economics - I apologise to schoolboys for this analogy -
have produced nothing but empty shelves.

There's an imminent countrywide strike (by the minority who still have work)
against a wage-increase "freeze".

Wisely, it would be a stay-at-home strike, in order to avoid the inevitable
police beatings of peaceful protesters.

We hear about the so-called talks between Mugabe's despotic regime and the
opposition MDC to find a political settlement, but, meanwhile, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai is being "charged" for visiting a supermarket last month
to see the empty shelves for himself.

With a general election pending in six months, the independent Daily News
remains banned and there's no semblance of democracy or human rights.

This failed state gives the rest of the region a bad image in terms of
investment and tourism.

Surely it's time for the UN to step in to the equation and adopt measures to
stop what might become genocide through mass hunger.

Ivor Davis

Sandton

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