Mugabe snubs Archbishop

 The outspoken Archbishop of Bulawao, Pius Ncube, was forced to cancel saying Mass for the late vice president, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, at the weekend, after threats from President Mugabe. Mugabe said he would not attend the memorial service at the Nkomo family home if Archbishop Ncube was the celebrant. Zimbabwean press reports say the president is brooding over the loss of his party's 21 parliamentary seats which he partly blames on what he believes were the bishop's anti-Zanu PF homilies. Archbishop Ncube said he would no longer celebrate the service and his place would be taken by a junior priest. The Nkomo family is understood to have specially asked Pius Ncube to officiate at the Mass, in his capacity as Archbishop of Bulawayo. Nkomo died of prostate cancer last July. He was 82. After Mugabe raised his objections, several other senior priests, including Archbishop Patrick Chak-aipa of Harare, were asked to take his place. All were unavailable. Ncube said: "I will not officiate as the family has been forced to choose between me and the political party. I believe that politicians should not interfere with the issues of the church. I realise that the president is personalising this thing." Ncube is one of a few prominent church leaders who was critical of the violence and intimidation that took place in the run-up to the Zimbabwean elections. Amnesty International has expressed concern for his safety. In a statement released on Saturday, they said the Archbishop has received four death threats in the past week. Amnesty said threats and acts of violence have been the hallmarks of President Mugabe's leadership. They called for an end to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe now a new government has been elected.

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