Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

“Operation Restore Mugabe Legacy”: The Catholic Way

By Tendai Chabvuta

When Robert Mugabe, a staunch Catholic finally resigned after 37 years in power as the Head of State in Zimbabwe, it was with a sigh of relief not just for Zimbabweans but for the whole world. What has been confusing though is the way Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwean war veterans and the rest of the military in Zimbabwe have been insisting that Mugabe’s legacy needs to be kept intact.

Father Fidelis Mukonori
Father Fidelis Mukonori

The government has reportedly proposed that Mugabe’s birthday “21 February” be declared a national holiday. In all this hullaballoo, one figure stands out so much not only for his body size but in the manner that he has been defending and sanitizing Mugabe’s resignation as a voluntary process done through Mugabe’s own volition.

It is rather interesting that this man, Father Fidelis Mukonori in interviews with the BBC and local media is telling a narrative that seeks to protect Mugabe’s legacy in a positive way when the truth is harkening him the other way. Father Mukonori noted in the interview with the BBC that “Mugabe’s face glowed and … was not weeping unless there were some angels weeping elsewhere …“ after signing the resignation papers on 21 November 2017.

What could be the interests in peddling such a narrative which amounts to some sort of nonsensical religious propaganda whitewashing the fact that Robert Mugabe was forced out of office?

Self-serving interests to feed VIP status ego

First, it seems the interests for Father Fidelis Mukonori to continue peddling a narrative that Mugabe finally capitulated on his own accord is purely personal and individualistic. Fidelis Mukonori has played a prominent role in Robert Mugabe’s life as his spiritual leader having met each other in the 1970s.

Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, Catholic Priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba seen here with Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe  who are seated.
Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, Catholic Priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba seen here with Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe  who are seated.

There is no doubt that Fidelis Mukonori is an important figure in his church and his relationship with the Mugabes makes him a Very Important Person (#VIP) in Zimbabwe and among his social circles. Not so many people knew this man until the day he was first in the pictures standing behind Mugabe.

To continue denying what reportedly happened during the time Mugabe resigned keeps Fidelis Mukonori in the driving seat of this narrative. In a society full of people who want to be seen to be “important and relevant” this works well for Fidelis Mukonori.

WhatsApp chats in Zimbabwe swarmed with all sorts of reverence about Fidelis Mukonori’s powers as a member of some Catholic Jesuits grouping. His participation in the Mugabe ouster negotiations only adds to this mystification and his supposed importance.

Positioning the Catholic as a VIP Church and player in Zimbabwe politics

Second and closely linked to the individualistic reason above, this narrative being pushed by Fidelis Mukonori seemingly places the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe at the center of Zimbabwe’s difficult politics. His involvement in the negotiations whether invited or not makes the Catholic church a seemingly VeryImportantPlayer (#VIP) in Zimbabwe’s politics.

Pallbearers led by Father Fidelis Mukonori carry a casket bearing the body of national hero Retired Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on arrival for a mass at Chishawasha. He was later buried at the National Heroes Acre. — (Picture by Shelton Muchena)

As mentioned above, Zimbabwe is a society that thrives on this misguided notion of VIPs (persons or political players including the church). The Catholic Church can try all it wants to be a VIP in Zimbabwe’s politics and is entitled to as much as any other Zimbabwean.

However, it should never be forgotten that the church was also instrumental in quests for democracy battles against Mugabe for a long time. One case in mind was during the height of the economic breakdown and the Catholic faithfuls would walk out of the Roman Cathedral in Harare whenever Mugabe and his family walked into the church for Sunday Mass.

Robert Mugabe reportedly ended up attending Sunday mass in his rural home, Zvimba to avoid further embarrassment. For Fidelis Mukonori to try to present a narrative that Mugabe left power voluntarily is to demean and trample on the Catholic faithfuls’ wishes who for a very long time hated and prayed for the dictators’ downfall. Fidelis Mukonori, cannot peddle the narrative that Mugabe left voluntarily innocently like that and get away with it.

Coup not a coup – serving the military narrative

Third, it is most likely that Fidelis Mukonori swore to secrecy that he would not reveal what transpired at the Blue Roof (Mugabe’s personal residence) during the takeover period. A deal might have been struck between him, the military and ZANU PF officials that he tells a certain narrative that Robert Mugabe “sighed” showing huge relief after he had signed the resignation papers.

This sort of narrative serves the military and the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa very well. The narrative that has been peddled has always been there was no coup in Zimbabwe to depose Mugabe. For Fidelis Mukonori to say anything else would go against this much-desired narrative.

Thus, he sticks to his guns that Mugabe was so happy to “voluntarily step down”. That line cannot be true. The correct narrative is that Mugabe was forced out of power and he resigned kicking and screaming in a process that took almost a whole week to complete.

Tweets and media interviews from Mugabe’s inner circle and his nephews show that Mugabe would not have resigned because he intended to stand for elections in 2018. If Robert Mugabe was ready to stand in 2018 why would he happily step down before the elections? Fidelis Mukonori is being economical with the truth and by doing so is trying to sell Zimbabweans and the world a narrative that is incorrect and self-serving for him, Mugabe and the new rulers in Zimbabwe.

What is the concern with father Mukonori’s narrative?

The issue is over and done with. Mugabe is now history and no longer the President of Mugabe. His true legacy is of a man who led Zimbabwe through the first few years of his reign with magnanimity after the liberation struggle, significant development in education, health etc.

He is a man who can be credited for standing strong against Western imperial forces during his heydays. Robert Mugabe is a man who will always be credited with pushing for and executing the long-delayed land redistribution exercise. What happened afterwards in that process can always be questioned but that is a story for another day.

However, Fidelis Mukonori, cannot possibly say that Mugabe left power gracefully. Robert Mugabe ceased to be the people of Zimbabwe’s choice at least by 2008 or even earlier. Catholic faithfuls in Zimbabwe were among the people who wanted him to step down and the sentiments would not have changed now. Presenting a narrative that Robert Mugabe left with GRACE is a complete lie and misrepresentation of facts and history.

If no other Zimbabwean will question this narrative, the Catholics in Zimbabwe and all over the world need to question this. The same church where one goes to pray for peace cannot be seen to be protecting a broken legacy of a man who broke the spirit of a nation and his fellow Catholics in Zimbabwe.

This is not a call for personal and image attacks on Robert Mugabe or Fidelis Mukonori. However, if there is nothing else to say, the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe should probably say “NO COMMENT” when asked about Robert Mugabe. The church in Zimbabwe cannot continue to be used/abused to suppress the wishes of its faithfuls because of the need to maintain a VIP culture for individuals and religious institutions in Zimbabwe aligned to politicians and their political parties.

  • This toad must stop with his Mugabe bootlicking and asskissing.

  • Ndezvekumama izvoooo

  • MaFata aye pamwe ndiye Boyfriend raGrace

  • Good article !

  • Out of touch priest. … not impressed at all. Legacy….what legacy? The legacy of destroying an entire nation with blood dripping off his hands….eish no! 4 million every trip over seas with 95%unemployment and raging rampant poverty want and need…thousands crawling under barbed wire fences & swimming croc infested rivers to get OUT. Wake up! No wonder I’m a very ex Catholic. …not interested in the Catholic way but God’s way. ….infuriating. ..where is the broken hearted repentance?

  • I think the stupid deluded one is you Nehanda radio. The reason you go to him is because you don’t have the information to start with. So zvawaudzwa neanga aripo nekuti zvatadza kuwirirana nezviri mutupfungwa twako, you are now attacking him. Uri ngoko

  • He wanted to please his chain of handlers behind him.Mukonori is another mugabe but in a double way .He just another pedophile and a blood sucker.

  • Please, can someone tell me whether Mr Kaunda really came to see uncle RGM during his debacles, refusing to leave office?

    • Yes he dd

    • Oh thx. Am sure he is the one whom Mugabe listened. No linked information about the 2’s meeting. He’s someone, Kaunda. Not even some jorno tried to eavesdrop.

  • What can you expect from a beneficiary of Mugabe’s chaotic 37 year reign. Religious leaders are supposed to stand for the truth But ours in Zimbabwe behave like ostrich

  • What is the difference between this priest and the other one who was called Clutton Brock who is buried at the acre?

  • After he heard of the news of impeachment his face changed!!!!!!!!vakabva vaziva kuti masamba asiyana

  • Father Mukonori is a Catholic priest and according to Catholism he has to tell the truth and if he lies it’s a sin.

  • Father Mukonori is a Catholic priest and according to Catholism he has to tell the truth and if he lies it’s a sin.

  • Father Mukonori is a Catholic priest and according to Catholism he has to tell the truth and if he lies it’s a sin.

  • Ma fata enyu aya.

  • The Priest is telling you what he witnessed, do you have another source with contrary information? Why did you interview him in the first place if you already know all the details of what transpired? Haaaaa

  • We need not refute his submissions untill we have facts to the contrary. My prayer is that the glowing face lasts a while longer before misery takes over

  • Another Jesuit operating in Zimbabwe

  • Who knows the truth

  • Musanyebere vanhu Mugabe built Zimbabwe would you want to go back to the 1980s. There is development every where electrify, piped water, schools, universities, internet. He did what other presidents could not do. He was a teacher and he taught all Zimbabweans to love beautiful things, thats why Zimbabweans compare themselves to what is in USA,UK etc you are jealous of his beautiful life and houses. In fact dont be jealous emulate him build your own blue roof kwete kungopopota yet makaenda kuchikoro even mauniversities becoz of his education for all policy. How many countries have done that even in Europe. Mugabe is black so he will be hated, becoz he is black. Even you if u are black you will be called all sorts of evil bad names. Even myself you will scold me for telling the truth coz i am black.

    • For past 37 years is not enough what he have done.

    • Chant it @ Prosper Big up bro.

    • nice observation i like that only his friends were bad

    • Sorrounded by bad people who didn’t tell him the truth about leaving the office.We are appreciate a lot but he should have gone long time ago.Kune nguva yemudyandigere.Nhai what’s the retiring age in Zim it seems it’s not clear.

  • So this guy has not had sex for over 40 years.

  • Priest vatori pabasa. Vatoita bag.

  • leave munhu waMwari

  • Is there anyone, anywhere who was a witness and has a different narrative?

  • If a man of God protects evil it means he is ???

  • Its very fortunate to him #mugabe that he is the only Zimbo with a hard heart. To us Mugabe is history and don’t bother reading abt him. He had plans to leave his wife on the throne and that is his greatest #heartbreak. Mr #Pastor go tell #Mugabe that we forgave him a long time ago. Ngaatinyararidzirewo #Grace I know she is crying everyday. Go give her a Dvd of her last Sunday with Masowe at the stadium. Tell her to enjoy it.

  • Zimbabwe legacy should be first.

  • Why do you want to force him to hate he fears God and Noone is perfect

  • The Catholics Pope supported the Nazi ..rememba

  • Another lunatic. Nxa

  • wilbert

    The Roman Catholic Church, especially through the work of Father Mukonori, has a lot to be ashamed of in terms of its relationship with Mugabe.