THE late former president Robert Mugabe was a devoted parishioner who attended mass every Sunday at his Kutama parish in Zvimba, according to the resident priest.
However, the fallen strongman discontinued his weekly pilgrimages in the latter years of his life due to security concerns, the priest, Father Frederick Mabiri, revealed.
“The old man used to come for mass every Sunday, but my predecessor did not create a good church schedule which could suit him since he was always surrounded with security. So, finally, the big man almost gave up attending mass here because there was no clear schedule which he could fit in, security-wise,” Father Mabiri said.
“So he stopped attending mass here. But this is his home parish. He would prefer to attend mass here than in town.”
He described Mugabe as supportive of the old parishioners in Zvimba, even leading an initiative to build a local hospital.
“He also did a lot of things for this college. He helped extend our hostels. As a parishioner and a member of this community, he even donated a car which we still use today,” Mabiri said.
Mabiri said while some of the parishioners were grieving, many found solace in the reality that Mugabe lived a full life.
Mugabe died in a Singaporean hospital on April 6 where he had spent four months receiving treatment.
The Zvimba community has expressed sadness over the loss of their most distinguished parishioners. His body was taken to Zvimba on Monday where villagers had a chance to bid him farewell.
A Catholic brother described Mugabe as a simple member of the community who often visited Kutama College, where he attended school.
“He would come and have breakfasts with all of us and never discriminated against any of us. Mugabe would come unannounced and wanted to remain simple as part of the Kutama Old School Boys,” he told the Zimbabwe Independent.
The Catholic brother said Mugabe would visit his old teachers and former missionaries in Canada where they relocated after their missionary work in Rhodesia.
“He is essentially a son of this community. He was even helped to escape to Mozambique by brothers and sisters from the Roman Catholic. They understood his political influence and felt obliged to keep him safe,” he said.
A mausoleum is being constructed for Mugabe at the National Heroes Acre where he will be buried. His family finally approved the burial at the national shrine after intense negotiations with government.
Mugabe had reportedly told relatives he does not want to be buried at the national shrine.
As reported by the Independent, Mugabe also told his relatives he does not want President Emmerson Mnangagwa to pontificate over his dead body.
The family wants Mugabe to be buried privately be it at the National Heroes Acre or in Zvimba.