By A Correspondent- The Roman Catholic Bishop of Chinhoyi, Father Raymond Tapiwa Mupandasekwa, has launched a scathing attack on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government, saying the ruling party is led by ruthless killers who arrest anyone who thinks differently from them and is full of people who are not afraid to shed innocent blood.
The Masvingo-born Mupandasekwa, who in 2018 became the first black bishop of Chinhoyi Catholic Diocese, took particular aim at Government over the recent decree by Vice President Chiwenga to employ all graduating doctors under the army as a way to prevent future job actions in the country’s fragile healthcare sector.
The 50-year-old Catholic Bishop also blasted the Mnangagwa administration for the arrests in July and subsequent prolonged denial of bail to political activists and journalists who stand accused of plotting the unconstitutional removal of Government.
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono together with opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume spent 44 days locked up at Chikurubi Prison as the State repeatedly opposed bail. Opposition MDC Alliance official Job Sikhala was also to be later arrested and held the same waym
Speaking yesterday at a church service in Chinhoyi, Bishop Mupandasekwa described Mnangagwa’s government as “killers”.
“They bring bloodshed; they kill. Instead of freedom, they bring imprisonment. They bring violence and imprison all those who oppose them. The only thing they know is violence,” said the cleric to an astounded congregation.
Turning to the plight of young medical doctors who now have no option than join the army in order to complete the last two years of their qualification journey, Father Mupandasekwa said the government was bringing “great” distress to the medical professionals with this “unconstitutional proposition”.
“The freedom party refused to give freedom of choice to the young doctors,” he said.
He added that the country could soon find itself with no more doctors as a result of the decree.
Born on the 28th of April 1970 in Masvingo, Bishop Mupandasekwa in 2018 became the black first Catholic Bishop for Chinhoyi diocese. He succeeded Bishop Emeritus Dieter Scholz who was overseeing Chinhoyi at the time.
Bishop Mupandasekwa’s mother Roswita Madzima (deceased) was a housewife and a tailor. She died from breast cancer. His Father Fabian Mupandasekwa (now also deceased) was a police officer for many years. He died in 2002 from injuries sustained from a car accident.
He attended Chishawasha seminary in the early to mid 1990s and was eventually ordained priest by Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa in August 2001.
The Bishop becomes the first Catholic leader in recent memory to launch a direct attack on the Zimbabwean leaders since Father Pius Ncube had run-ins with Robert Mugabe in the early 2000s.
However, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) has of late been making scathing commentaries as a bloc against the Government for alleged human right abuses and corruption.
A case in point is the scathing letter sent by the ZCBC accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime of abusing power in its crackdown on political activists, and of rampant corruption.
The letter reads:
“The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented. Is this the Zimbabwe we want? To have a different opinion does not mean to be an enemy. It is precisely from the contrast of opinions that the light comes. Our government automatically labels anyone thinking differently as an enemy of the country: that is an abuse …
“Suppression of people’s anger can only serve to deepen the crisis and take the nation into deeper crisis.”
The bishops said corruption in the country had reached alarming levels.
The letter, sent on 14 August, continues: “Government and civic society are agreed that corruption is [choking] the economy, and compromising our justice system. While there is this acknowledgement there hasn’t been equally a serious demonstration by government to rid the country of this scourge.”
The clergy said an urgent solution to the Zimbabwean crisis was needed.
The bishops have also thrown their weight behind the #Zimbabweanlivesmatter movement, which was trending on social media in August.
The government said at the time that it was offended by the letter, which it described as “inappropriately prescriptive and grossly disrespectful”.
Mnangagwa told his party’s politburo meeting: “It is most unfortunate when men of the cloth begin to use the pulpit to advance a nefarious agenda for detractors of our country.
Ziyambi Ziyambi, the Minister of Justice, said at the time: “Government is compelled to engage the Vatican to ascertain whether such statements reflect the official attitude of the Holy See towards Zimbabwe’s leadership or whether these are merely the views of the various individuals concerned.”
Effort to get a comment from both the ZCBC and the Government’s spokesperson George Charamba on Bishop Mupandasekwa’s remarks drew blanks.-online