Wednesday, July 18, 2007

When in trouble, smear your opponant

Once again Robert Mugabe, the master of propaganda and dirty tricks, has the whole country talking about allegations that have been brought against Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, rather than the price controls that threaten to destroy the country.

Zimbabwe is awash with stories that Archbishop Ncube is being sued for adultery. According to reports in the state controlled media, the cleric, who is Robert Mugabe harshest critic, allegedly had a two-year affair with a married parishioner who is also an official in his church. The Archbishop’s lawyer Nicholas Mathonsi described the allegations as an orchestrated attempt to discredit his client. He said: “I think a line must be drawn between someone who has been found guilty by a court of law and somebody who is being tried in public for political expedience.”

Although the allegations have shocked many people it is not Ncube’s guilt or innocence that people are talking about. It is the suspicious nature of the photographs published in the state media and the carefully planned handing over of the summons and the state media feeding frenzy that followed. ...

Lawyer David Coltart said: “The amount of publicity given to this matter is highly unusual and it lends credence to those who say that this is something that is orchestrated by the state.” He added that remarks made by Mugabe last week saying there were some priests who vowed to be celibate, but are not, is proof that he had full knowledge of this, way before the matter came to light on Monday. Coltart said the graphic naked photographs of the woman who is implicated in this case that appeared in the Chronicle newspaper have disgusted many people. He said: “How she has been treated goes against the culture of Zimbabweans and it is disgusting that the regime has stooped so low.”

The state has strong reasons for wanting to discredit Pius Ncube and an alleged sexual scandal is the most effective way of silencing their most outspoken critic. The regime has over the years leveled a variety of accusations against the outspoken cleric in the hope of silencing him. They have also tarnished other senior clerics with allegations of sexual impropriety, such as the Methodist Bishop Charles Mugaviri, who was proved to be innocent.

Observers say Ncube has a high profile in and outside the country and because of this the regime could not easily kill him as they did with little known cameraman Edward Chikomba, or opposition activist Gift Tandare.

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