Pius Ncube told the Johannesburg-based Sunday Independent newspaper that he hoped a non-violent uprising, in the same vein as Ukraine’s so-called ‘orange revolution’, would sweep the country ending 25 years of rule by President Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

“Mugabe came in by violence, and now when he is threatened, he turns again to violence to keep people subjugated,” the Archbishop said, criticising the government’s campaigning in the lead up to elections on March 31.

The president’s party is expected to easily win the parliamentary poll amid allegations of intimidation and biased media coverage.

In a complaint submitted to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings two weeks ago, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) cited examples of biased media coverage.

The MDC claimed, on one occasion, the state-controlled national television provided four hours of live coverage at the launch of ZANU-PF’s election campaign, while devoting only a minute and 25 seconds to the opposition’s launch.

“I hope that people get so disillusioned that they really organise against the government,” the Archbishop said.

“Because, as it is, people have been too soft with this government. So, people should pluck up just a bit of courage and stand up against him and chase him away.”

Archbishop Ncube is purported to have defied death threats during his years of vocal opposition to the Mugabe government, according to human rights groups.

He encouraged his fellow Zimbabwean’s to rise above alleged threats of being denied food aid by going out and voting for the country’s MDC party.

“Go and vote for food, go and vote for jobs, go and vote for MDC – and go and vote for your future,” he reportedly told the AP news agency.

South Africa, which is taking part in supervision of Zimbabwe’s elections, is expected to approve the poll despite internal criticism from within President Thabo Mbeki’s ruling coalition.

Political analyst Chris Maroleng, of South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies, suggested Mr Mbeki’s stance is born out of concern “to maintain stability and not to create a spill over of refugees into the region,” Mr Maroleng said.