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Zimbabwe Archbishop Disputes Allegations Of Adulterous Relationship

A lawyer for Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, who has been accused engaging in an adulterous relationship with a parish secretary, says he has filed papers in high court disputing the accusations against his eminent client.

Ncube, one of President Robert Mugabe’s bitterest critics - Ncube once said he was praying for Mr. Mugabe to die - is being sued for Z$20 billion dollars (US$125,000) by Onesimus Sibanda of Bulawayo, the husband of Rosemary Sibanda, the woman with whom Ncube is alleged to have been sexually involved since January 2006.

The suit was announced Monday at a news conference called by the plaintiff's lawyer, Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga. State television broadcast an interview with Mrs. Sibanda in which she said she had been involved with Ncube for the past two years.

Ncube's response to the allegations in another interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation, to many seemed ambiguous as he acknowledged being a "sinner."

But Ncube's lawyer, Nicholas Matonsi, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the truth will be determined by the court.

Ncube could not be reached immediately for comment, and Matonsi said he had instructed his client not to make further statements.

Zimbabwe's government-controlled media gave maximum publicity to the case.The state-run ZBC, the Bulawayo Chronicle and the Harare-based Herald newspapers ran pictures they said show the archbishop in intimate situations with various women.

Last week, President Mugabe accused unnamed church leaders of breaching their vows of celibacy by engaging in sexual activity. Secretary General Frederick Chiromba of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference said the organization would only comment after considering developments.

Harare lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, said the allegations against Ncube were very unfortunate, and noted that in light of the prelate's adversarial relationship with the ZANU-PF government and President Mugabe, the case was sure to be highly politically charged.

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