Zimbabwe: churches pledge support for Pius Ncube

 Zimbabwean Christians from many denominations on Friday joined in strong public support of Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo. In a series of statements the archbishop's supporters accused Mugabe's government of intolerance which "amounted to persecution of the church". Three organisations on Friday placed a joint advertisement in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, describing Ncube as a "true patriot" and "a humble man of God who speaks the truth". The organisations included the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Christians Together for Justice and Peace, and the Solidarity Peace Trust. The latter two are groupings, including Protestants and some South African churches and religious organisations dedicated to helping victims of violence. They condemned recent claims by state media that Ncube's words "border on treason" and that he should be banned from travelling outside Zimbabwe. In a similar statement eight Catholic and Protestant groups and ecumenical associations, denounced the "calculated, hateful and unjustified criticism of Archbishop Ncube". They said: "This amounts to the persecution of the church and its leaders as a ploy to silence it from voicing the glaring evils perpetrated against the generality of the population." They rejected plans to enact legislation strictly controlling the work of charities and voluntary organisations, and banning those focused on "issues of governance and human rights" from receiving foreign help.

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