Robert Mugabe’s chaplain believes that God ‘protected’ the Zimbabwean dictator during his 37-years rule, which ended today with displays of wild jubilation.
According to this report, Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit priest and close confidant to Mugabe, led the mediations between the devoutly Catholic 93-year-old ruler and the military chiefs who recent took control of the country in a bid to keep the tyrant in power.
Mukonori, pictured above with the President in 1991, has been chaplain to Mugabe and his family since he came to power. Their friendship goes further back to the 1970s after the former guerrilla fighter was released from prison under Ian Smith’s regime in what was then Southern Rhodesia.
Mukonori has worked with The Center for Peace Initiatives in Africa (CPIA) and has given the blessing at each anniversary celebration, adamant in his support and approval of the leader.
Describing one of his first meetings with Mugabe in 1974, Father Mukonori wrote in Zimbabwean newspaper The Sunday Mail:
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.
As a spiritual leader to Mugabe Father Mukonori saw his faith side which he insisted was genuine.
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.
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.
On learning of Mugabe long-overdue departure, The UK LGBT Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) issued a statement welcoming:
The end of the brutal homophobic tyrant Robert Mugawe’s rule.
The statement said:
Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwe since 1980, has actively carried out actions against LGBT people and spoken out in public against homosexuality.
Mugabe received worldwide criticism for comments he made on 1 August 1995 after coming across a stall set up by the Association of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) at the country’s annual International Book Fair in Harare. GALZ, founded in 1989 to facilitate communication within the gay community, had not received much attention from the government beforehand.
Mugabe’s comments after seeing the stall at the book fair were ‘I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organisations, like those of homosexuals, who offend both against the law of nature and the cultural norms espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst and elsewhere in the world.’
Two weeks later during Zimbabwe’s annual independence celebrations Mugabe proclaimed:
‘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.’
Referring to pressures to decriminalise homosexuality, Mugabe told the UN in 2015 ‘We reject attempts to prescribe new rights that are contrary to our values, our norms, traditions and beliefs.’
Mugabe was invited to attend the beatification of Paul John Paul at the Vatican in 2011. Despite his Marxist pretensions and passionate rhetoric against the West, Mugabe has long been an admirer of the Catholic Church. Born at a Catholic mission station in British-ruled Southern Rhodesia, he attended Jesuit schools. Perhaps as a result, the Vatican has tended to give Mugabe a free pass.
PTT Secretary George Broadhead commented:
Mugabe must rank as one of the worst homophobic leaders worldwide and his cosy relations with the Vatican are hardly surprising. Let’s hope that the new regime will be truly democratic and respect human rights.