The former archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Pius Ncube, said he will remain a human rights advocate and that he has no intention of running for the country's presidency in next year's elections as rumored.
The archbishop was speaking during a Sept. 19-20 visit to the Denis Hurley Peace Institute in Pretoria, South Africa. The institute, which belongs to the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, invited him as a show of solidarity and support, reported the Catholic Information Service for Africa.
This was the archbishop’s first public address since his resignation Sept. 11. He resigned after he was sued for adultery in what is widely considered a smear campaign against him.
Archbishop Ncube said he would not leave Bulawayo but would intensify his commitment to bring an end to the Mugabe regime. He told his audience that his personal prayer life would remain the source of his strength in the face of his tribulations.
At the same time, Archbishop Ncube said he is convinced President Robert Mugabe, 83, will win the March 2008 elections by mass intimidation, the manipulation of food sources, and rigging.
The archbishop also said his life has been in danger for sometime and that he had received numerous warnings from friendly sources within the regime urging him to be very cautious about where he went.
Fr. Sean O'Leary of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute said the archbishop spent the first evening among friends and spoke freely of the situation in Zimbabwe and his personal problem. The following day, he visited St. John Vianney Seminary and spoke to three different groups of seminarians. In the afternoon he asked to do some shopping.
"The deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe was brought home to those with him on the shopping trip, when he chose to buy six large loaves of bread and 10 kilos of flour among other things to take home with him," Fr. O'Leary was quoted as saying.
Later, the archbishop addressed a number of leading South African businessmen at a gala dinner in his honor. He spoke about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe — the lack of food, the breakdown of health and education systems, and the increasing poverty.
He lamented the division in the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. He reportedly said efforts by the South African government to negotiate with Mugabe to end the crisis are useless, adding that President Thabo Mbeki and the Southern African Development Community are aligned with Mugabe.
Archbishop Ncube said he resigned for the sake of the church and the archdiocese. He said the government refused to help anyone who lives in the archdiocese as long as he was the head of it.