Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo said Thursday that he favors a boycott of the National Day of Prayer to be held on Sunday, at which President Robert Mugabe is scheduled to address those attending in Harare's Glamis Stadium.
The invitation to Mr. Mugabe was extended by other religious leaders who have been trying to develop a dialogue with the president. These clerics said it would mark the first time that the president has attended the National Day of Prayer.
The event's official sponsors are the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, and the Catholic Bishops Conference.
Critics of the decision to invite Mr. Mugabe say the prayer day is being hijacked by Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party. The Standard newspaper reported that the church organizers are working with Elliot Manyika, a cabinet member without portfolio and ZANU-PF's political commissar, in planning the logistics for the mass event.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Bishop Trevor Manhanga, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, who said the ruling party has not seized control of the event, which remains in church hands.