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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 19:40 GMT
Defiant Zimbabwe bishop 'mad'
People queue to receive food aid
Up to six million Zimbabweans need food aid
Zimbabwe's Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, has described as "mad" the archbishop who on Thursday urged President Robert Mugabe to stand down.


We should feel some sympathy for that bishop because he does not need our criticism, he needs our prayers

Jonathan Moyo
Mr Moyo denied that the government distributed food aid to its supporters only, saying that more than half of the supplies had been handed out fairly in opposition strongholds.

The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, said Mr Mugabe's controversial land reform programme was ruining the country's economy and putting millions at risk of hunger.

He said black farm workers were the real victims when white farms were handed over to government supporters.

'Mad utterings'

Mr Moyo dismissed Mgr Ncube's criticisms, saying he was not fit to pass judgement on the government's policy.

Archbishop Pius Ncube
Archbishop Ncube is a long-time Mugabe critic

"When a bishop is mad, he is mad, and I don't think it is fair for you to ask me to comment on the utterings of a mad bishop," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"I think we should feel some sympathy for that bishop because he does not need our criticism, he needs our prayers, and we want to assure him he has our prayers. We are praying for him."

Mr Moyo said that the government had distributed 569,000 tonnes of grain across Zimbabwe, at least 54% of which had been given through private milling companies to Harare and Bulawayo, where the opposition is strong.

He dismissed the suggestion that the bishop was only expressing what the people had told him, saying that they had been sent by "British intelligence operatives".

"He is not an authority, Mr Moyo said of Archbishop Ncube, "he is a desperate, troubled soul."

Jonathan Moyo
Mr Moyo accuses the UK of stoking violence in Zimbabwe

The European Union on Thursday accused President Robert Mugabe's government of channelling food aid to its own supporters and ignoring opposition activists, as millions face starvation.

Speaking about reports that foreign food aid was being diverted, a Danish minister said that such behaviour was unacceptable.

Last weekend, a United States official warned that the US may have to take "intrusive" measures to ensure that food aid was properly distributed.

Zimbabwe denied the allegations and accused the US of preparing to invade.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jonathan Moyo on Focus on Africa
"He is a desperate and troubled soul."

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07 Nov 02 | Africa
06 Sep 02 | Africa
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