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Zimbabwean Archbishop Criticizes Opposition Leaders

The outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo has taken aim at Zimbabwe's political opposition, criticizing its leadership for failing to inspire enough confidence in the population to bring about mass protests of conditions.

Known as a blunt-speaking critic of President Robert Mugabe, the prelate said in an interview with the Catholic News Service this week that the founding president of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, talked big but had "no vision.” Ncube said Tsvangirai had ignored national crises like the government's 2005 slum-demolition drive and tended to cling to power much like President Mugabe.

As for rival MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambata, Ncube said the former student leader and expatriate businessman lacked political maturity, which he said had helped to perpetuate the split in the opposition and thereby reduced its effectiveness.

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe interviewed Ncube.

Tsvangirai spokesman William Bango took issue with Ncube’s comments, saying that Tsvangirai has been implementing policies agreed on by the party's membership. But Deputy Information Secretary Abednico Bhebhe of the Mutambara wing of the MDC said Ncube's criticisms were constructive and would be taken to heart.

Elsewhere on the political scent, Interim leader Daniel Shumba of the newly founded United People’s Party said he hopes more than 100,000 people will turn out June 24 for the party's official launch. The former ZANU-PF chairman for Masvingo Province was suspended from the ruling party in the course of a 2004 power struggle.

Shumba told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he hopes his party will make a difference in the country’s political and economic crisis.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...