Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he would pray for Zimbabwean Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, an outspoken government critic named in an alleged adultery case.
Though he was speaking at a state funeral on Wednesday, Mugabe smiled when he raised the Ncube affair, which has been a fixture in state media for three days and which Ncube's lawyer has called an "orchestrated attempt" to embarrass the cleric.
"To take other people's wives, is that a good game?" Mugabe asked mourners during the nationally televised funeral for Brigadier General Fakazi Muleya, a former guerrilla leader who died of cancer.
Ncube was named on Monday in a civil adultery suit filed by a railroad worker who alleged his wife, a secretary in Ncube's office, had a two-year affair with the archbishop of the second city of Bulawayo. Court officials were accompanied by a state television crew on Monday when they delivered the suit's documents to Ncube, who has repeatedly accused Mugabe of human rights violations and called for him to step down. The cleric has also urged Zimbabweans to take to the streets to demonstrate against the government amid the nation's worst economic crisis since independence.
Mugabe said Ncube took an oath choosing a life of celibacy as Catholic cleric.
"I also know God, I am a Roman Catholic. I am a person who belongs to the church but I didn't have an affair with anyone," he said at Heroes Acre, a shrine for former guerrillas in the bush war that led to independence and political leaders.
Mugabe, however, fathered two children with his secretary before his first wife died. He married Grace Marufu in 1996, and said later his first wife condoned his relationship with Marufu because she knew she was barren.
In 2005, Ncube said he prayed for Mugabe to die.
"To pray for people to die is bad. God is for us all ... I will pray for him so he has some good manners," Mugabe said on Wednesday.
Mugabe said the nation's rampant inflation was orchestrated to bring about "regime change" by Britain, the former colonial ruler, the US, other Western nations and "enemies" within the country. The government ordered all prices cut by around 50 percent on June 26, leading to hoarding and acute shortages at the stores of cornmeal, meat, most staples and gasoline.
Mugabe said manufacturers, suppliers and profiteers for "mistreating" consumers with inflated prices and forcing the government to intervene.
"If things are not found on the shelves it's not our fault, it's their fault," Mugabe said.
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