Roman Catholic Priest Fidelis Mukonori Speaks On The Deal That Removed Robert Mugabe From Power In Zimbabwe

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The excitement and expectation of this momentous week in Zimbabwe was intoxicating, but it is calming down now.

The new president is in office but at what cost to the nation?

It is widely reported that former president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace could get a $10m retirement bonus, immunity from prosecution and carte blanche to continue their luxurious lifestyle.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change are furious, saying it is an unconstitutional stitch-up that was little more than a bribe to get the president to stand down.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC secretary general, told me they will fight the deal in the courts according to the constitution – which specifically outlines the future status of former presidents.

Robert Mugabe has led Zimbabwe for more than 30 years
Image:Robert Mugabe led Zimbabwe for more than 30 years

“This looks pretty much like a big bribe for the president in return for something and one can only think that it is in return to stepping down,” he said.

“President Mugabe should not have cost Zimbabweans any more, any cent more for leaving, for leaving the throne,” he added.

The man who acted as the negotiator between the then president and the generals said his old friend was in good spirits and had realised his time was up when the army appeared on the streets.

Roman Catholic priest Fidelis Mukonori told me the exact details of that negotiation and what was agreed with the first family are not public, but he confirmed finances were a large part of the process and that Mugabe and the army organised the handover of power between them.

“President Mugabe said where are you Emmerson (Mnangagwa)? Come, come, come right away.

“We need to fix this, we need to handle this,” he said describing the final days of the presidency.

“The thinking that time, the planning that time, was when he, as soon as he would arrive, perhaps within the next 24 hours more or less, they would sit together, plan together, work out together issues pertaining to the party issues, pertaining to government, that would lead into the smooth handover, takeover.”

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Video:Faint applause as Mnangagwa thanks ‘father’ Mugabe

On the question of money and assets, he added this: “If that what belongs to him through his own hard work is his, what is the problem?

“But if you are alluding that he took that which was not his, that’s a different matter,” he said.

The ostentatious excesses of the first family irritated everyone in Zimbabwe.

Pictures posted on social media of Grace’s sons out clubbing, showing off $1,300 drinks bills and pouring champagne over a $60,000 watch, an attempt by Grace and her supporters to take over the President’s Zanu-PF party, and the sacking of Mr Mnangagwa – all these things together were simply too much for the military to accept.

So they acted.

Grace Mugabe
Image:Mrs Mugabe had made no secret of her desire to succeed her husband

It was a coup in all but name.

Outside of Harare and the major cities the poverty of Zimbabwe is quite striking.

Just a few minutes into the countryside, people who will always have lived a simple rural life are suffering terrible hardship.

They are poorer than they have ever been and they have no work.

The new president is promising an economic revolution but many will question if handing millions to a former leader who was responsible for all this is really a good start.-Skynews