A top Roman Catholic cleric who helped negotiate former president Robert Mugabe’s exit after last year’s military takeover says the ageing politician appears happy in retirement.
By Obey Manayiti
Father Fidelis Mukonori , a long-time confidante of Zimbabwe’s first leader after independence from Britain, said he remained in constant touch with Mugabe after his ouster in November 2017.
“Yes, I talk to him, I still visit him at his house,” Mukonori said in an interview on the side-lines of an election reporting workshop organised by Silveria House and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists last Friday.
He said he last saw Mugabe at his house a few weeks ago when the former ruler returned from a medical check-up in Singapore.
“He looks happy,” Mukonori said. “I had just gone to see him and he looks well.”
However, the cleric could not be drawn into commenting on how Mugabe was spending his days after his 37-year rule ended in dramatic fashion. He said the last time he visited the soon-to-be 94-year-old at his Harare mansion his wife Grace was abroad.
“Well, I didn’t have time to discuss about the family. He had just arrived from a foreign trip,” Mukonori said, adding: “the wife had stayed behind looking after the new grandchild so there was no time to discuss more, but he was looking happy and healthy.”
Mugabe’s daughter, Bona, gave birth to her second child last month. There were reports that she travelled to Malaysia for the delivery. Mukonori said he had not seen any significant change in the way Mugabe carried himself around.
“He is still the same. He is still in his suits. He still dresses well, looks smart, still shaves and cleans,” he added. “He is still the same Robert Mugabe you knew and looks relaxed.”
Mukonori was roped in by the army to negotiate Mugabe’s exit when the former Zanu PF leader appeared to be digging in even after he had been put under house arrest.