CITIZENS that have been wronged by the former president of Zimbabwe during the last 37 years he was in power must not be forced to forgive the 93 year old Robert Mugabe, Bishop Noah Pashapa said.
The cleric who leads Life and Liberty Churches International Bishop Pashapa said forgiving Mugabe also depends on his actions such as being “remorseful” and asking for that forgiveness whole heartedly.
He said Mugabe must also accept some of the mistakes he has personally committed including those of the people he worked with during his reign.
Mugabe, who had in power since the country got independence in 1980, resigned under pressure last week after the Zimbabwe Defence Forces took over the running of the country.
His resignation also followed protests by thousands of people marching in solidarity with the army and after he was expelled as leader of Zanu PF.
He resigned as Members of Parliament were in the process of impeaching him.
“The issues of forgiveness should not start only with Mr Mugabe, his Cabinet Ministers, and supporters are also in,” Bishop Pashapa said in an interview Sunday.
“Mr Mugabe was ruling with supporters’ blessings, they not only voted him in 1980 but up to the last general election in 2013 and the people were giving him the mandate to do so, so the supporters must also take the blame and accept their responsibility.”
Bishop Pashapa added, “During his watch a lot of things were perpetrated including corruption.
“If I was asked to advise Mr Mugabe (Robert) and Mrs Mugabe (Grace), I would say to him there is no harm in asking for forgiveness from the people and in at least acknowledging what are perceptions of people that these are the things that you should ask for forgiveness for, and it will make it a whole lot easier for the nation to forgive him.”
“If such signals would come from him that I have done wrong, Zimbabwean are a forgiving lot,” the bishop said.
Commenting on those who do not want to forgive Mugabe over unresolved issues such as the Gukuhurahundi Genocide where more than 20 000 innocent civilians were massacred by his regime and in the last decade or so since the formation of opposition MDC, Bishop Pashapa said people should not be forced to forgive their former president.
“I understand, I appreciate how they feel and respect how they feel and seek to appreciate to them that this is the human condition,” he said.
“But my appeal to them is to think in terms of the future generation because when we forgive, we are doing it for the future group.”
“When we forgive it’s not for ourselves it’s not just a feeling but an act to let go that account, it’s like writing off a bad debt from someone who is now unable to pay back.”
He added, “So l would like to appeal to their best judgment and yet give them time, they should not be frog-marched into a mind-set of forgiveness and forgiving Mugabe.”