Image: Pius Ncube
Denis Farrell  /  AP
Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, a vocal critic of Zimbabwe's government, has been accused of carrying on a two-year affair.
updated 7/19/2007 12:16:40 AM ET 2007-07-19T04:16:40

President Robert Mugabe said he would pray for Zimbabwean Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, an outspoken government critic accused of having an affair.

Mugabe, speaking at a funeral for a former guerrilla leader, smiled when he mentioned the Ncube case, which has been a fixture in state media for three days. Ncube’s lawyer has called the adultery case an “orchestrated attempt” to embarrass the cleric.

“To take other people’s wives, is that a good game?” Mugabe asked mourners during the nationally televised funeral for Brig. Gen. Fakazi Muleya, who died of cancer.

The civil adultery suit was filed Monday by a railroad worker who alleged his wife, a secretary in Ncube’s office, had a two-year affair with the archbishop of the city of Bulawayo. State TV crews accompanied court officials when they delivered the documents to the cleric.

Ncube has repeatedly accused Mugabe of human rights violations and called for him to step down. The cleric has also urged Zimbabweans to take to the streets to demonstrate against the government amid the nation’s worst economic crisis since independence.

In 2005, Ncube said he prayed for Mugabe to die.

“To pray for people to die is bad. God is for us all. ... I will pray for him so he has some good manners,” Mugabe said at Heroes Acre, a shrine for former guerrillas in the war that led to Zimbabwe’s 1980 independence from Britain.

“I also know God, I am a Roman Catholic. I am a person who belongs to the church but I didn’t have an affair with anyone,” he added.

Mugabe, however, fathered two children with his secretary before his first wife died. He married the secretary, Grace Marufu, in 1996, and said later his first wife condoned his relationship because she knew she was barren.

Hidden camera
On Tuesday, the official Herald newspaper published photographs allegedly taken by a camera hidden in Ncube’s bedroom, claiming they show the archbishop undressing beside the woman he is accused of having an affair with. The photograph depicted Ncube sitting on a bed taking off his shirt, obscuring a woman seated behind him.

The Herald said many explicit pictures were taken by a private investigator hired by the man who filed the adultery case.

Zimbabwe once had one of the most diversified, vibrant economies in southern Africa. Its current decline, marked by inflation of 4,500 percent — unofficially 9,000 percent — had been linked to confiscation of farms from whites that started in 2000.

Mugabe said the rampant inflation was orchestrated by Western countries, including Britain and the United States, and “enemies” within Zimbabwe to bring about “regime change.”

Food shortages
Last month, the government ordered price cuts of at least 50 percent in an attempt to curb inflation, leading to acute food shortages and near riots as cheaper goods went on sale.

Mugabe said manufacturers, suppliers and profiteers were “mistreating” consumers with inflated prices and forcing the government to intervene.

“If things are not found on the shelves it’s not our fault, it’s their fault,” Mugabe said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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