Leading Zimbabwean cleric and government critic Pius Ncube, who is at the centre of a bruising adultery row, has resigned, state radio reported Wednesday.
Ncube, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo has handed in his resignation, Frederick Chiromba, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) told the radio.
The Roman Catholic church in Zimbabwe had accepted Ncube's resignation and appointed an interim replacement until the Holy See makes a new appointment, according to the report.
Chiromba did not disclose the exact reason behind the resignation of Ncube, a fierce critic of longtime Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
"According to the information that we have, Pope Benedict has accepted today, September 11, the resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube as archbishop of the archdiocese of Bulawayo," Chiromba said.
"Of course, the explanation is that it is normal practice - as for health reasons or for some other serious reason - if a bishop feels that he may not be able to fulfil his offices or pastoral duties properly then he can step aside in this manner," he added.
Ncube was accused in July of having an adulterous relationship with a Bulawayo woman or women in a widely publicised case.
Pictures of Ncube in his bedroom with a woman were secretly filmed by a private investigator and beamed over state television in what his supporters said was a sting operation meant to bring the archbishop down.
It has since emerged that the investigator was a former member of the police force.
The archbishop has not entered a plea yet, but his lawyers have been vigorously fighting the case. Recently they demanded to be furnished with details of the dates and witnesses of the alleged adulterous acts.
The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference here recently proclaimed its full support for their archbishop, calling the attacks on him outrageous and utterly deplorable.
"Archbishop Ncube has fearlessly exposed the evils of the Gukurahundi massacres (in the 1980s) and of Operation Murambatsvina, an internationally condemned campaign of slum clearances in 2005," said the ZCBC.
"For years he has courageously and with moral authority advocated social justice and political action to overcome the grievous crisis facing our country," it added.
In March, Ncube said he was ready to lead street protests against Mugabe. "The pastors must be the ones in front of the blazing guns," he said.
Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2007, 18:53