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Zimbabwe Church Council Ousts Proponent of Engagement With Mugabe

The Zimbabwe Council of Churches elected a new president this week, punctuating a running controversy over the council’s involvement in a dialogue since May between some national religious leaders and President Robert Mugabe.

Incumbent President Bishop Peter Nemapare, who sought re-election in the ballot on Wednesday, has been succeeded by Bishop Wilson Sitchebo, who heads the Anglican Church in Bulawayo, where sentiment against engaging Mugabe runs high.

Dennis Mafinyane, still the council’s secretary general, said 22 of 24 council members cast votes. Council members elect officers every two years, he said.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba pf VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Sithchebo for his thoughts on assuming leadership as the organization grapples with the role of Zimbabwe's churches and clerics amid crisis and a looming political transition.

Namapare could not be reached by phone. Political commentator Farai Maguu, executive director of the Civil Alliance for Governance and Democracy, shared his thoughts on the leadership shuffle within the ecumenical organization.

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