Former Archbishop Set to Run Against Zimbabwe President

The former Zimbabwean archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, who recently resigned amid allegations of adultery, is reportedly preparing to run for the presidency to overthrow current president Robert Mugabe.

According to reports, Ncube is set to head up a sensational new political movement in Zimbabwe, and is likely to be a popular candidate in the elections next spring against controversial Mugabe.

Sources close to Ncube say his plans are already far advanced. Meetings have been held with the Zimbabwe African People's Union Federal party (ZAPU-FP) and the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland.

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Other factions of the opposition are expected to back his move. More than 60 community-based civic organizations throughout the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces are also supporting what has been dubbed the "Pius Ncube Solidarity Coalition."

"Pius is determined to fight Mugabe on the political front," reported the region's First Post publication. "All along he has been supporting other candidates, but none of them has been able to topple Mugabe. So this time he is taking the bull by the horns."

The opposition to Mugabe in the African country has been left disheartened after Morgan Tsvangirai, the much-quoted opposition leader, proved unable to unite the anti-Mugabe forces. Ncube, however, is likely to rekindle hope in efforts to end Mugabe's rule.

The former archbishop of Bulawayo has been one of the most outspoken opponents of Mugabe and has accused his government of human rights abuses, persecution and suppressing political dissent.

In March, Ncube said he was ready to face bullets in anti-government protests to help bring democratic change in the southern African nation, which is mired in a deep economic and political crisis.

Accounts from some areas of the country have reported that up to 95 percent of the crops had failed this year and the U.S. Ambassador to the country, Christopher Dell, said inflation could hit 1.5 million percent by the end of the year, with the cost of living more than doubling every week.

Despite millions facing starvation in the country, Mugabe has done nothing to help those in desperation, Ncube has said. Rather than investing into relief and aid, the president has instead recently invested about $2 million on surveillance equipment to monitor phone calls and emails, The Times newspaper reported.

"People in our mission hospitals are dying of malnutrition," Ncube said. "We had the best education in Africa and now our schools are closing. Most people are earning less than their bus fares. There's no water or power. Is the world just going to let everything collapse in on us?"

This month, Ncube resigned from his position in the Catholic Church after Zimbabwe's state-run media published what it claimed to be photos of the archbishop of Bulawayo in bed with a woman.

Zimbabwean state-owned newspapers the Herald and Chronicle had run photos in July of the archbishop under the headlines "Pius Ncube Shamed" and "Pius in Sex Scandal," respectively.

Ncube's supporters say the report was part of a government smear campaign against the archbishop for his activities against Zimbabwe's president.

Ncube is currently being sued by Onesimus Sibanda, the husband of a woman who worked as a secretary in the archbishop's office, who is demanding 20 billion Zimbabwe dollars ($79.3 million) in damages from the archbishop for allegedly committing adultery with his wife.

Lawyers representing Ncube have called the allegations "an orchestrated attempt" to discredit him while Southern African bishops have stood alongside Ncube, calling on the faithful in Zimbabwe and the international community to continue to praying for the archbishop during "this testing period."

"At the moment, the archbishop's guilt or innocence has yet to be proved and therefore we appeal to the media and everyone concerned to allow the law to take its course without passing premature judgment on the archbishop aimed at casting doubt on his credibility reputation and dignity," the president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, expressed in a statement published in July.

Tlhagale said the allegations and corresponding publicity "unfortunately come at a time when Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst political and economic crisis in its history, a crisis which Archbishop Ncube has consistently expressed great concern about and which we believe the country should be focused on."

"We, therefore, hope that Zimbabweans and the international community will not be sidetracked by these allegations in their efforts of finding a lasting solution to the serious problems bedeviling the country at present," he added.

Christian Post correspondent Daniel Blake and Christian Post reporter Eric Young contributed to this report.

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