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Mugabe stuns worshippers

Itai Dzamara

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe visited Highfield on Sunday where he made an unexpected appearance at the Catholic Church with his son and daughter.

ace=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Worshippers at St Mary’s Old Highfield parish church were taken by surprise when a troop of armed soldiers and police officers numbering over 100 cordoned off Jabavu Street which leads to the church just before the beginning of the 8am service.

Mugabe’s motorcade soon arrived at the church for the 79-year-old leader to attend the service together with his first-born daughter, Bona and Robert Jnr.

Father Kizito Mhembere, the parish priest, told the congregation at the beginning of mass that Mugabe had decided to attend without prior warning.

“I received a phone call this morning from the State House with the message that the president was coming to attend mass here with us,” said Mhembere.

“When I phoned back to say that we had not prepared for him, I was told it was too late because he was already on his way. He is not here to talk politics, but to pray just like any other Christian.”

Mugabe, who was in a pensive mood, did not address the congregation. Neither did he greet or wave to the public in his usual way.

Save for the ubiquitous soldiers and police as well as his aides dressed in suits, Mugabe’s presence at the service was low key.

Sitting in the second row with his aides seated behind him, Mugabe sat staring straight ahead as he listened to the sermon and dutifully responded to prayers.

In the later stages of the mass, a woman said a prayer for Mugabe: “Bless our president who is here and bring peace to our country,” she intoned.

After the mass Mugabe spent 30 minutes at the priest’s home. He later rejoined his motorcade which left for State House.

Mugabe used to attend mass at the Cathedral in central Harare but of late the First Family had stopped attending mass on Sundays.

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