Thursday 23 November 2017

The Brutal Despot and the Catholic Priest

Robert Mugabe.
"God has saved his life" - Fr. Mukonori
Photo credit: AP
Zimbabwe: Who is the Catholic priest behind Robert Mugabe? | Christianity today

As we say goodbye to the tyrannical psychopath who has run Zimbabwe for the last 30 years and the Zimbabwean people celebrate, let's look at the role of the Catholic Church and in particular the Catholic priest who was his confidante and most loyal supporter - Fr. Fidelis Mukonori.

Fr. Mukonori is a Jesuit priest and has been a friend of Robert Mugabe since before he came to power. During the independence struggle as ZANU-PF led by Mugabe and ZAPU led by Joshua Nkomo waged a guerilla war against the illegal white supremacist government under Ian Smith, Fr. Mukonori travelled around Zimbabwe - then called Rhodesia - under the cover of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia, gathering information about the progress of the liberation struggle and passing it on to Mugabe.

Since then, he seems to have become enamoured of Mugabe and too close to him, or maybe too isolated from reality, to see what was happening to Zimbabwe and to the emergent democracy as it degenerated into a totalitarian despotism with ZANU-PF operating largely outside the law.

He is quoted in Christianity Today as saying:

I saw a simple, unassuming person one could listen to intently. This person before me was totally different from the one described in the Rhodesian media. One would have imagined that President Mugabe and Vice-President Joshua Nkomo were man-eaters, but to the contrary, I met a soft-spoken gentleman.

Later, following independence he described why he decided Mugabe should be the leader:

President Mugabe was his usual calm self. He never displayed anger or vengeance despite having spent 11 years in prison fighting the unjust system. He once said, "The evil is in the system. These white people happen to be the ones in charge and to be offshoots of a generation that colonised us. But it is the system that we are fighting. The fight is not about colour or race."

That impressed me very much.

Fr. Fidelis Mukonori with his friend Robert Mugabe
In February 2015, in an interview published in The Herald, he told Tichaona Zindoga:

President Mugabe’s personality has not changed. He is consistent and persistent in his wanting to understand the depths of an issue and its background ... unassuming. The spiritual side I don’t know how much the world knows and I think very few people have the time to understand him and how spiritual he is.

Even people who worked with him in the height of the war I don’t think they knew — in fact they didn’t know that Robert Mugabe moved in the battlefield with the rosary in his pocket. Robert Mugabe would be saying his rosary sitting in the car, Robert would say his rosary flying on the plane. He flew thousands of miles every year during the war. He was a moving target all the time but he always prayed.

His own mother Mbuya Bona said to me one day: “Brother, when my son Robert told me amai ndakuenda kuhondo kuMozambique kunotungamira hondo [Mother, I am going to Mozambique to lead the war], I said my son there is nothing more I can give you except that I will pray for you. Then I gave him my rosary: here is the rosary I have no other weapon that I can give to protect you, pray your rosary.

“And then I took a jacket when he was away and inside the jacket I sew in a medal, on whose one side is the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the other side our Lady Mary, our Mother Mary. And I sew that medal so that Sacred Heart of Jesus would take care of my son and Mother Mary would take care of my son.”

And that was Robert. I don’t think people knew how much he dedicated himself to the spiritual life which he still believes very fervently, very strongly today. The number of attempts on his life, the number is incredible; during the war, after the war: is it his own cleverness, is it the excellence of his State security apparatus? I am sure it is God who has saved his life.

Inspired no doubt by his Catholic spiritual adviser and, despite his Marxist pretensions and passionate rhetoric against Western values, in 1995 he told a crowd celebrating Zimbabwean independence that:

Homosexuality degrades human dignity. It’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs. If dogs and pigs do not do it, why must human beings? We have our own culture, and we must re-dedicate ourselves to our traditional values that make us human beings … What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behaviour and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police.

The Vatican showed their support for this passionate 'Marxist' and violent homophobe by inviting him to the beatification of Pope John Paul in 2011.

Mugabe was born in a Catholic mission in then British-ruled Southern Rhodesia and was educated in Jesuit schools. As the Jesuit founder, St Ignatius Loyola said in one of the most chilling and sinister boasts ever uttered by a priest, "Give me the boy until he is seven and I will give you the man!"

The man they gave the world went on to be one of Africa's worst despots as political opponents were beaten up and killed, ballots were openly rigged and the judiciary were intimidated and bullied into submissive compliance by ZANU-PF thugs.

Amazing Grace.
Judging by the celebrations following his removal from power to prevent his nominated successor, his even more odious wife Grace, from succeeding him as president, he became one of the most detested of Africa's many brutal dictators.

Zimbabwe, which could have become the bread-basket of Africa became an economic basket case, with its currency not worth the paper it was printed on. So impotent had the 'democracy' he helped to found in Zimbabwe become under his leadership that it was inadequate for removing him democratically. He was deposed by a faction of ZANU-PF itself which had become alienated from him and his clique because of the arrogance of Grace Mugabe and fear of what the party would become under her autocratic leadership.

There is still a great deal to do to rebuild democracy in Zimbabwe from the wreckage left by Robert Mugabe. That struggle still has a long way to go. The omens are not good since the unelected successor, the former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, only fell out of favour when Grace Mugabe took a dislike to him, seeing him as a rival for the succession. He had been one of Robert Mugabe's more brutal enforcers.

No doubt Robert Mugabe derived great comfort from the assurance give to him by Fr. Fidelis Mukonori that God was on his side and had preserved his life for this special purpose.

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  1. In the end, Ian Smith was very accurate in his predictions.

    1. Yep. Even a fascist can sometimes guess correctly.

  2. Really? Ian Smith was shot down over Germany in his RAF plane. Hence all those scars on his face. Ian Smith was very accurate about what will happen in Rhodesia.

    1. Very good! Not sure what his war wounds have to do with it but as I said, even fascists can guess right sometimes. Did you think they were invariably wrong about everything, maybe?

    2. Seems like he wasn't wrong in predicting that Zanu will turn Rhodesia into the basket case of Africa.

    3. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. Was there something about my previous reply that you found confusing? Are you perhaps trying to show that fascists have some sort of prophetic powers?

  3. The points I'm trying to make are that:

    1. He wasn't a fascist. He fought against fascists.
    2. He was a realist.


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