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'The end does not justify the means' say Zimbabwean bishops as Mugabe's funeral takes place

by Cara Bentley

Mugabe, who had been receiving treatment in Singapore for poor health, died on 6th September at the age of 95.

The controversial figure, who many saw as a tyrant but others admired for liberating the country, was ousted in a military coup in 2017.

His funeral on Saturday took place at a national sports stadium in Harare, the capital, and was attended by current president Emmerson Mnangagwa and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

A letter signed this week by seven Catholic Bishops of Zimbabwe read: "Some dwelt on his broad education and others on his achievements from the liberation struggle to State House as a principled person, liberator, his empowerment of the black majority, pan-Africanist, etc.

"We, the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, agree with most of these attributes but they also raise a key question, 'What went wrong?' The intentions and the objectives were good but the manner of achieving them raised a number of ethical questions. This is where we, as a country, went wrong and continue to go wrong to this day."

They specifically detail where they feel Mugabe's leadership strayed into dangerous territory: "We are deeply concerned about the reported nocturnal visits by unknown masked men, beatings, torture, sexual assaults, abductions, harassment of dissenting voices and violent repression of demonstrations by Police.

"Such acts contradict the positive narrative of Zimbabwe's Second Republic, have no place in a democratic society and there should be no impunity for those who commit these crimes. The end, in this case the purported peace, does not justify the means."

The bishops, including Robert C. Ndlovu, Archbishop of Harare, and Alex Thomas, Archbishop of Bulawayo, argue for the security forces to restrain from heavy handedness and for the police to investigate all cases of torture. They ask all Zimbabweans "to turn their swords into ploughshares and unite in building the Zimbabwe we all want."

The leaders also recommend that: "The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) and other Churches to convene and facilitate National Days of Prayer. Our Nation needs God."

Their statement ends: "May the God Almighty bless the nation of Zimbabwe and grant it courage to build a Zimbabwe that is free, tolerant, peaceful, prosperous and God fearing."

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