As Zimbabweans continue to suffer from severe food shortages
and an inflation rate of over 7,500%, one man has openly denounced the
government for inflicting such a crisis upon its civilians. Archbishop Pius
Ncube is one of very few who have taken a stand against President Robert Mugabe,
calling for street protests and political intervention to force him from power.
As a result, Mugabe has charged Ncube with having an affair with a married
woman in his parish, hoping to tarnish the Archbishop’s name as a critic of the
Zimbabwean government. Now, Ncube has the strength of nine Zimbabwean Catholic
Bishops behind him.

After issuing an investigation into the allegations brought
upon Ncube, Zimbabwe’s Bishops have decided in
favor of Ncube. Their support was made public by taking out a full-page ad in
the Herald newspaper, in which they said “for years, [Ncube] has
courageously and with moral authority advocated social justice and political
action to overcome the grievous crisis facing our country.” They applauded
the Archbishop for having “exposed the evils of the government” and are considering
Mugabe’s allegations a shameless “assault on the Catholic Church.”

The President has warned the Bishops of the dangerous path of
becoming too political. This is hardly surprising, though it shows that Mugabe
is willing to use force to maintain his grip over the country’s economy and
political structure. Zimbabwe’s
Bishops have taken a bold step in backing Ncube, though it was the absolute
right thing to do in light of the seemingly false allegations. Ncube must
remain as public as possible if he is to succeed in blocking Mugabe; otherwise,
the President is likely to use his growing power to silence such opposition.

Four out of five Zimbabweans remain unemployed and the
country’s major bread producer has declared a limited supply of grain. South Africa’s
President Thabo Mbeki has resisted any involvement in ousting Mugabe from
power, declaring it is “fundamentally wrong” to do so. Though Mbeki has come
under intense criticism for his decision, he remains firm in his policy of “quiet
diplomacy.” We can only pray that the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe
succeeds in advocating for the rights of Zimbabweans. They have had the
strength thus far to stand up against an oppressive government – let us hope that
they remain unhindered in their efforts.