Catholic Priest Key to Solve Zimbabwe Crisis

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Negotiating The Abdictation of Power of President Mugabe

Reverend Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit priest, is hope for many when it comes to Zimbabwe’s peaceful power transfer. The pastor began the process on November 15. He is presently the mediator between President Mugabe and the Zimbabwean military. Mugabe is for all purposes now a deposed statesman. Military generals have limited the authoritarian leader within his own residence. Mugabe continues to have respect within the military and the chiefs of the latter thus want to move him out of power slowly.

Fidelis Mukonori holds a master’s qualification from California’s Santa Clara University. He studied in the university’s Jesuit School of Theology. He took an active part when Zimbabwe came into existence, playing an important role in the 1979-signed Lancaster House Agreement.

President Mugabe is still regarded as a hero but is a divisive figure to many Zimbabweans. He is one of the prime movers of the revolution that released the shackles of white majority rule. His critics, however, hold him responsible for the sorry economic state of the country. Many are also opposed to him as they perceive the president to be a violent man who uses violence to keep himself in power.

Reverend Mukonori is 70 years old. His first meeting with Mugabe was in a social service agency run by the Jesuits in 1974. They met in the outskirts of Harare, the Zimbabwe capital city. Mugabe’s sister worked in the capital city. Mukonori served as chaplain for the presidential family throughout his presidency. He was with Mugabe through the turbulent years when the economy failed and politics became murkier.

The Reverend has been a spiritual adviser to the Mugabe family for more than 30 years. He is trying to strike a deal which will slide Mugabe out of power. The 93-year-old Zimbabwean strongman could even spend his twilight years in South Africa.

Reverend Mukonori, through his long association with the president, knows him better than most. He tries to project the authoritarian and sometimes brutal Zimbabwean strongman as a spiritual and sympathetic persona. He narrated how Mugabe received a rosary from his mother when he went to war. She told him that his best weapon is the rosary. The would-be first citizen, according to the Reverend, moved into battle carrying that rosary in his pocket. The same rosary would be seen while the president sat in his car, and also during flights.

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