HARARE — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will question the Anglican Church's silence on Western sanctions against him and its position on homosexuality, and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will press him to end violent suppression of the church and its priests at a meeting expected on Monday.
Williams arrived in Zimbabwe on Sunday as part of a tour of southern Africa and is expected to meet 87-year-old Mugabe on Monday. Mugabe has yet to confirm the arrangement.
His spokesman, George Charamba, told the state-run Sunday Mail in an interview that, "if ever" Mugabe and Williams were going to meet, Mugabe would ask why the church had not condemned the sanctions he says are hurting ordinary Zimbabweans.
"Has the church consorted with the British state to impose sanctions against us?" Charamba said.
Western countries led by former colonial power Britain have maintained financial and travel sanctions on Mugabe and senior members from his ZANU-PF party since 2000 over charges of human rights abuse and electoral fraud. Mugabe denies the charges.
Charamba said Mugabe had nothing to do with a dispute between the church and a rebel bishop who has taken over Anglican church assets.
The Anglican church is appealing against an Aug. 4 ruling that gave Nolbert Kunonga, a Mugabe supporter who leads a breakaway faction of the church, custody of the Anglican church's Zimbabwean properties.
Kunonga is a former head of the Anglican church in the country but resigned in 2007 claiming homosexual priests and congregants had gained influence in the church, although it does not conduct same-sex marriages or ordain gay priests.
"The second issue that the President wants this man of God [Williams] to clarify is why his Anglican Church thinks homosexuality is good for us and why it should be prescribed for us," said Charamba.
]Mugabe "thinks the archbishop will be polite enough to point to him what portion of the Great Book sanctions homosexuality and sanctions."
Mugabe makes frequent verbal attacks on gays and lesbians and has previously said they are "worse than pigs and dogs".
On Sunday, a group of about 200 members from Kunonga's faction marched in central Harare denouncing homosexuality.
© 2016 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.