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Pius Ncube says CIO is threatening his elderly mother

Archbishop Pius Ncube was allegedly sleeping in different safe houses every night because the Central Intelligence Organisation was after him, but he was more worried about his elderly mother because the CIO had also threatened her.

The Catholic cleric held a prayer service at the St Mary’s Cathedral in Bulawayo on 27 February 2003 for victims of torture.

Deborah Moyo, one of the victims, is said to have given a heart-wrenching account of how she had been gang-raped by fellow recruits and superiors at the Border Gezi youth training camp.

CIO officers are said to have attempted to arrest the bishop after the service but he was protected by fellow ministers and bishops.

The officers came back the following day but found Ncube with supporting clergy. They then warned him that the previous day’s meeting was too political.


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Reference ID






2003-03-14 10:27

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000540









E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2013








Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d




1. (C) In recent weeks church leaders, including some from

South Africa, have shown an increased willingness to speak

out, and to organize events or meetings that draw attention

to the political crisis in Zimbabwe. We would welcome

Pretoria’s and Capetown’s assessment of a serious mediation

initiative by the Archbishop of Capetown. The GOZ has

responded in force to increased assertiveness by Zimbabwean

clergy arresting, detaining, threatening and in one case

beating a clergy member. Though threatened, so far their

activism has been a winning strategy. It is unclear how long

the GOZ will allow clergy members that little extra room to

express dissent and mobilize parishioners, but their

increased activism certainly poses a dilemma for the GOZ.

End Summary.


South African Archbishop Intervenes


2. (C) On March 12 the Anglican Archbishop of Capetown

Njongonkulu Ndungane made his second visit to Zimbabwe in

recent weeks and met separately with President Mugabe, MDC

leader Morgan Tsvangirai, church leaders, and an range of

prominent civic organizations. Although the GOZ press

insists that Ndungane is mediating between the GOZ and the

UK, the Archbishop has made clear in both his public remarks

and private meetings that Zimbabwe is facing a number of

internal crises that must be resolved. Both civil society

leaders and the MDC were impressed by the Archbishop’s

understanding of events on the ground and the seriousness and

objectivity he seemed to bring to his offer to mediate a

sustainable resolution of Zimbabwe’s political and economic

crises. In response to Ndungane’s request, the MDC tapped

Secretary General Welshman Ncube to be the point person for



this mediation effort. We were unable to meet with Ndungane

and would welcome Pretoria’s and Capetown’s assessment of his



19 Clergy Arrested While Delivering Petition


4. (U) Meanwhile, Zimbabwean church leaders are becoming more

outspoken in their criticisms of political violence. On

February 28 nineteen clergy members from the Zimbabwe

National Pastors’ Conference (ZNPC) were arrested and

detained for five hours in Harare when they tried to deliver

a petition to Assistant Police Commissioner Mandeya (who had

agreed beforehand to accept the petition) which urged the

police force to respect the rights of all Zimbabweans. As

they approached the police station carrying wooden crosses

they were surrounded by police in riot gear who banged batons

on their trucks and sang, “It’s been a long time since you

were beaten” in Shona. In a public statement, the Crisis in

Zimbabwe Coalition, of which ZNPC is one of 350 member

organizations, condemned the arrest and called for an

immediate return to the rule of law.


Prayer Meeting Highlights Victims of Torture


5. (U) On February 27 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo

Pius Ncube led a prayer service that featured victims of

torture at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Bulawayo. Deborah Moyo

gave a heart wrenching account, before collapsing with

emotion, of her repeated gang rape by fellow recruits and

superiors at a GOZ-sponsored Border Gezi youth training camp.

MDC MP Job Sikhala described his January 14 torture in which

suspected CIO members administered on him electric shocks and

urinated on him (Ref B). After the meeting, CIO officers

approached and attempted to arrest Archbishop Ncube, but

fellow ministers and bishops remained with him, offering some

protection as witnesses. CIO officers left, but returned the

following day, as did Ncube’s supporting clergy; the officers

warned Ncube that the previous day’s meeting was too

political. Ncube sleeps in different safe houses every

night, but is worried about his elderly mother, whom CIO

officers have also threatened.


6. (U) On February 24 Archbishop Ncube led a protest at the

Bulawayo cricket grounds just prior to the Cricket World Cup

match between Australia and Zimbabwe. In a statement Ncube

criticized the Australian team for being unsympathetic to the

plight of ordinary Zimbabweans by playing the match.


Bishop Speaks Out Against POSA


7. (U) In a late February statement entitled “POSA, an

Unnecessary Evil Instrument and Totally Undemocratic”, Dr.

Sebastian Bakare, the Anglican Bishop of Manicaland and

President of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, said he felt

horrified to live in a community where people cannot engage

in development programs for fear of being arrested. He said

that as long as the draconian Public Order and Security Act

(POSA) is in force there is no chance for desperately needed

political dialogue to address the polarized environment in



“Walk for Love” Ends With One Clergy Beaten


8. (U) On February 14 police arrested 14 people in Bulawayo,

and about 50 in Harare during Valentine’s Day “walks for

love” organized by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) that drew

hundreds of participants in each city. Most of the arrestees

were women, but one clergyman, Fr. Nigel Johnson of the Roman

Catholic Church in Bulawayo, was also arrested. Witnesses

reported that police handcuffed and then applied a chokehold

on Johnson until he passed out and fell to the pavement.

Later, at Bulawayo police station he was reportedly okay,

albeit bruised and shaken up; the Bulawayo women, some

elderly, spent the night in police cells. The Crisis in

Zimbabwe Coalition condemned the arrests and beating and

called for a repeal of POSA, under which the arrests were



ZRP Stymies Church Meeting – Emboff Detained


9. (U) On February 13 Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition organized

a public meeting at the Northside Community Church in

Borrowdale, Harare under the theme, “Is the Church Resolving

or Deepening the Crisis” to have been addressed by Bishop

Trevor Manhanga of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe.

Police broke up the meeting before it started, chasing away

30 or so people who had gathered. Police punched in the face

a well-known political scientist Dr. John Makumbe while he

was handcuffed, and arrested 6 people including Bishop

Manhanga, Makumbe and an Emboff (Ref A).




11. (C) Some church leaders are becoming more active, and

more outspoken and the GOZ is matching their activism with an

equivalent show of force. So far their activism is a winning

game. But it is unclear how long the GOZ will allow clergy

members that little extra room to express dissent and

mobilize parishioners, and their increased activism certainly

poses a dilemma for the GOZ. We are encouraged by the

seriousness of Archbishop Ndungane’s mediation efforts; what

they are able to accomplish will depend in large measure on

Mugabe’s willingness to discuss internal issues, as opposed

to his usual bogeyman; the GOZ-UK relationship. End Comment.



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