Outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube was detained briefly on Friday afternoon in his Bulawayo chapel, by state security agents, who warned him to desist from discussing political issues before the start of interdenominational prayers for justice and peace in Zimbabwe. "They warned that no political party regalia should be worn during the prayers, they also said inflammatory statements were not to be allowed during the church service, " Pius Ncube told a packed city cathedral before the beginning of the prayers. "We told them that this is purely a church event with no party politics to be addressed, but we can not avoid addressing political issues affecting the people of Zimbabwe, politics is about food, shelter, school fees for your children, jobs and everything to do with our normal day to day activities," he said. The church service, held amidst hovering sounds of military helicopters, was attended by human rights activists, Christians from all denominations and opposition MDC Members of Parliament, who included Paul Themba Nyathi, David Coltart and party Vice President, Gibson Sibanda. Ncube is a strong and outspoken critic of President Mugabe's scorched earth policies and has shown concern for flouting of human rights by the government. As Ncube led prayers, police were arresting the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai for leading five day marches to protest Mugabe's misrule. The Archbishop returned last week from a visit to the USA where he was praised by the US Secretary of State, Collin Powell, for the role he is playing in speaking out against Mugabe's misrule and his blatant flouting of human rights. In his sermon, Ncube urged the congregation to pray for the country's leaders to uphold human rights. He said: "We should pray for our leaders to be inspired by the Holy Spirit or else we will perish. We should also pray for our leaders to uphold human rights and let us not pretend that things in the country are normal, otherwise we will be deceiving ourselves." Over 1,500 people of all races packed St Mary's city cathedral where the Archbishop speaking in a hushed voice said there was so much fear in the country. "The main problem is that there is too much fear in the country, fear of the unknown and fear of the known consequences if we decide to act or speak out,"Ncube said. The outspoken cleric said despite threats to keep quiet about the goings-on in the country he was not in a position to do so. "I shall not be quiet when my people are suffering I shall speak," Ncube said."There is a lot of suffering here and we need to change this. Our children are forced to go for military training where our daughters are sometimes raped and you call that normal?" Crosses representing the two people two people killed during this week's mass action and others who have died in political violence throughout the country were carried onto the stage at the end of the prayers. Ncube highlighted a plethora of shortages of basic commodities afflicting the country and said Zimbabwe needed God's intervention for things to improve. The Archbishop last month conducted a service for torture victims where the victims gave harrowing testimonies of happenings at Zanu PF youth camps scattered around the country. Heavily armed police and soldiers maintained a heavy presence outside the cathedral during the afternoon prayers. Zimbabwe Independent journalist Loughty Dube sent us this article which was due to be published in his paper yesterday.
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