Calls for Mutsvangwa to step down over ‘righteous Ndebele minority’ slur

There are calls for Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, to step down following her tribally-charged rant on Catholic bishops who spoke out against the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

Last Friday the Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu-led Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops` Conference (ZCBC) unreservedly condemned the government’s crackdown on civil rights activists and the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe in their pastoral letter entitled: “The march is not ended.”

In its response, the government also fired a broadside at Catholic bishops calling Archbishop Ndlovu “evil minded”, “misguided” and seeking to ferment tribalism in the country.

This is not the first time, the government has gone after Catholic Bishops who have spoken out on the human rights abuses in the country such as Gukurahundi atrocities, political violence and the country’s economic decline.

The late former president, Robert Mugabe once called the late former Archbishop of Bulawayo, Henry Karlen a “sanctimonious prelate” after he and other Catholic bishops had protested about the Gukurahundi massacres.

Karlen played a key role in exposing the Gukurahundi massacres leading to investigations by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and the Legal Resources Foundation that produced a detailed report called “Breaking the Silence – Building True Peace.”

In March 1983, it is reported Karlen had a five- hour meeting with Mugabe, then Prime Minister, apprising him of the atrocities and pleading with him to stop the massacres.

In 2007, the then Catholic Bishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube, a fierce Mugabe critic, was forced to resign after he was accused of adultery following a video recording of him and a woman.

Before that recording emerged, Mugabe had warned, “Some priests claim they swore to celibacy yet they sleep around with countless women,” a little-noticed remark that was afterwards interpreted as evidence the government was behind the operation.

Ncube resigned after the spectacle and said the issue “was obviously a State driven, vicious attack not just on myself, but by proxy on the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe.”

Mugabe once described Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu`s criticism of his rule as “devilish talk”.

In an interview with CITE, Dr Vusumusi Sibanda, leader of the African Diaspora Global Network, said the ZCBC was entitled to share views, as they were representing Zimbabweans affected by the torrid economic conditions in the country.

“In our view it is not a mere attack or trashing but a request to be engaged in solving what appears to be the problem. On the contrary Senator Mutsvangwa’s statement clearly shows that it is the voice of the Government and her statements opines the views of the institution in Zimbabwe as represented by its leadership,” he said.

Dr Sibanda said for the government to be taken seriously, it should act swiftly, “by firing Mutsvangwa and employ a qualified information and broadcasting specialist who will understand diplomacy, nation building, sensitivity and the plight of the people.”

In a solidarity message, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa “to provide leadership by retracting the personal attacks on Archbishop Ndlovu and the church leaders…”

MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa said the church, “being the moral compass and ‘conscience guardians’, must speak truth to power in any society.”

“Government’s vitriol and diatribe aimed at the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ position on the current political and economic instability is evidence that Zimbabwe is indeed in turmoil!,” Chamisa tweeted.

His deputy, Professor Welshman Ncube said it was shocking that “that there is a government on earth in the 21st century that can release this kind of hurtful drivel as an official government statement.”

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