.- Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo says he is ready to lead a national campaign of peaceful resistance to force President Robert Mugabe to step down.
At a news conference yesterday, the archbishop urged Zimbabweans to take to the streets over the rights abuses of Mugabe's government, reported Reuters. Mugabe’s policies also disrupted the agriculture-based economy, leading to acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline, medicines and other essential imports.
"Human rights are God-given. No one has a right to just trample over them," the archbishop was quoted as saying. “People are justified to practice non-violent civil disobedience.”
"Starvation stalks our land and government does nothing to correct our situation,” he reportedly continued.
The archbishop, who has long been a critic of Mugabe, said one of the biggest problems is the cowardice of the Zimbabwean people. "If only Zimbabweans are prepared to stand, so am I prepared to stand ... we are not going to be bullied,” he was quoted as saying.
“As for me,” the archbishop proclaimed, “I am ready to stand in front, even of blazing guns!”
Archbishop Ncube was speaking at a news conference called by Christian Alliance, a group of church and civic leaders, who form part of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.
The latter organized a prayer meeting March 11, which was crushed by police. Police said they viewed the prayer meeting as a banned political protest. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 others were arrested, and then allegedly severely assaulted in police custody. The violence prompted a world criticism.
Furthermore, opposition activist Gift Tandare, 31, was shot dead when police fired tear gas, live ammunition and water canons to stop the prayer meeting. Christian Alliance reported the second death yesterday, saying 30-year-old Itai Manyeruki died in the hospital from injuries.