President Robert Mugabe’s personal priest Father Fidelis Mukonori told United States embassy officials in 2007 that he believed that it was now time for Mugabe to go but an exit would have been easier 10 or 15 years earlier.
“Now Mugabe is concerned about how he will spend the last years of his life should he leave politics and government,” a cable released by Wikileaks says. “We don’t know whether Mugabe asks for advice or whether Fidelis gives it. Our impression is that they have discussions, as old friends.”
The cable was a personal look at who Father Mukonori was.
Viewing cable 07HARARE692, MUGABE’S PRIEST, FATHER FIDELIS MUKONORI
RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0692 2150905
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 030905Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1754
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000692
AF/S FOR S.HILL
INR/I FOR RODNEY HUFF
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2012
SUBJECT: MUGABE’S PRIEST, FATHER FIDELIS MUKONORI
REF: SECSTATE 80907
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren under 1.4 (c)
¶1. (C) This message responds to a request for information
regarding Father Fidelis Mukonori. The Embassy meets with
Fidelis from time to time. We last saw him in July.
¶2. (C) Father Fidelis has ties with President Mugabe and
other senior ZANU-PF figures going back to the liberation
struggle in the 1970s. He is from Mashonaland East and, like
Mugabe, a Zezeru. He told us he was involved in brokering an
end to the ZANU-ZAPU conflict in Matabeleland in the early
1980s and was involved in putting together the Unity Accord
in 1987. He reportedly has served as a Mugabe emissary on
other occasions–to white farmers in 2000 and to Morgan
Tsvangirai in 2003 and 2006.
¶3. (C) Fidelis now meets irregularly with Mugabe; the last
meeting was in March. At this point in time he does not
travel with Mugabe. We are unaware if he also meets with
¶4. (C) Fidelis discusses the state of Zimbabwe with Mugabe.
He also discusses Mugabe’s future. Fidelis believes it is
time (or past time) for Mugabe to go, but told us an exit
would have been easier 10 or 15 years ago. Now Mugabe is
concerned about how he will spend the last years of his life
should he leave politics and government. We don’t know
whether Mugabe asks for advice or whether Fidelis gives it.
Our impression is that they have discussions, as old friends.
¶5. (C) We’re unaware of past rifts and/or disagreements
between Mugabe and Fidelis.
¶6. (C) Fidelis does not have his own church; he is the
senior Jesuit in Zimbabwe.
¶7. (C) Fidelis keeps his political views to himself,
although as stated in para. 4, he believes Zimbabwe needs new
leadership. He travels throughout the country and is no
doubt aware of the economic situation. He intimated to us
that he agreed with the substance of the Bishop’s pastoral
letter in April criticizing the government, but thought the
tone could have been less accusatory and more subtle.
Fidelis is on the board of St. George’s College. Last year,
when the government attempted to cap school fees for private
institutions, he was not afraid to criticize and challenge
the Ministry of Education.
¶8. (C) Fidelis travels frequently. Within the last several
months, he has been in the U.S., Japan, and South Africa.
We’re unaware of particular relationships with church
officials in South Africa.
¶9. (C) Fidelis regards himself as a conciliator and bridge
builder. He would like to see better relations between the
U.S. and Zimbabwe. We have explained U.S. policy to him,
including the prospect of U.S. assistance, and he has said he
would communicate this to Mugabe. At our meeting with him in
July he said he would soon seek a meeting with Mugabe to talk
about Mugabe’s plans. We will follow up with Fidelis.