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03 Sep 2004 08:35
Outspoken Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube secretly met Prince Charles and briefed him about Zimbabwe’s deepening economic and social crisis, according to Zimbabwean weekly the Zimbabwe Independent.
Archbishop Ncube, a fierce critic of Mugabe, met the Prince of Wales in July at his London residence where he told the heir to the British throne that Mugabe was slowly joining the elite squad of tragi-comic African dictators.
Prince Charles was told about Mugabe’s obsession with arming soldiers to fortify his rule when Zimbabwe was mired in unprecedented poverty, hunger and disease.
The meeting was kept under wraps by the British Foreign Office ostensibly because of its potential to spoil relations between the Royal Family and Harare.
Ncube this week confirmed the meeting but emphasised that Prince Charles did not want the get-together to be publicised.
“It’s true I did meet him but he did not want it reported on,” said Ncube. “I told him about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe but he was well informed. He expressed his sadness and stated that he was the one who handed the leadership to Mugabe (at Rufaro Stadium in April 1980).”
Mugabe has accused Archbishop Ncube of joining hands with the former colonial power in a “satanic” double effort to oust him from power.
Addressing mourners at the funeral of former governor Mark Dube last month, Mugabe said: “Dube would never have gone to Britain to invite Blair to please come and invade his motherland, in the same satanic way Archbishop Pius Ncube and his opposition colleagues are doing repeatedly today.”
However, Ncube said he was prepared to die defending the rights of the voiceless in the country.
“People are suffering and as long as they continue suffering I am going to talk,” Ncube said. “I can’t stop talking because it is a God-given duty that the Church must talk when people are suffering. But I have never advocated violence.”
Ncube said he told the Prince of Wales about inflation, high unemployment, a burgeoning HIV/Aids crisis and hunger.
The cleric also told Prince Charles about Mugabe’s misplaced priorities such as equipping the army instead of ensuring that people are well fed. He also briefed him on the lawlessness currently pervading the country. â€’ Zimbabwe Independent
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