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Southern Africa's Catholic Bishops Rally To Embattled Zimbabwe Prelate

The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference has dismissed the allegations of adultery lodged against Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo this week, saying that the Z$20 billion (US$125,000) dollar civil suit is meant to cast “doubt on his credibility.”

Conference President Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg Diocese appealed to the public not to pass judgement on Ncube as to his alleged adulterous relationship with Bulawayo parish secretary Rosemary Sibanda, whose estranged husband filed the complaint. Tlhagale said Ncube’s guilt or innocence "has yet to be proved.”

Tlhagale could not be reached for further comment; he was said to be traveling to Angola for a regional meeting of Southern African bishops beginning late Friday.

Sources said Ncube was scheduled to attend the regional meeting, but it could not be determined immediately whether he would make an appearance in Luanda.

Meanwhile, an informal survey found Zimbabweans divided in their opinions about the accusations lodged against Ncube. Some said the charges were politically motivated given the archbishop's outspoken and indeed often strident criticism of President Robert Mugabe. But others concluded that Ncube had feet of clay.

Correspondent Fazila Mahomed reported on public sentiment.

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