PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday sounded the death knell to drug kingpins, drug peddlers, and gun-toting robbers after he instructed the country’s law enforcement agents to smoke out and bring such characters to book while urging the nation to emulate the life of the late Fr Emmanuel Ribeiro and shun vice.
Speaking at the burial of Fr Ribeiro at the National Heroes Acre yesterday, the President said the life of the late cleric was a shining example of hunhu/ubuntu from where the country, particularly the youth, can tap values of humility, courtesy, honesty, and thoughtfulness.
At a time when the country is grappling with a surge in the consumption of illicit drugs and also when Zimbabwe has in recent months witnessed a disturbing rise in gun-related crimes, the President said stern measures will be taken to stamp out such threats to the country’s moral fabric.
“The late Father Ribeiro also esteemed the hunhu/ubuntu philosophy. Let us draw from these values of humility, courtesy, honesty, and thoughtfulness as we build a morally upright and prosperous society. More-so when we face countless societal ills some of which can be attributed to the impact of globalisation. These threaten to flatten and overwhelm local cultures.
“Unbecoming trends such as the alarming entry of destructive drugs into our jurisdiction, threaten the fate of our youth. To the youth in general, bring honour to your families, communities, and nation. This is what we also learn from the late Father Ribeiro.
“There is need therefore to redouble our collective fight against this new phenomenon of drugs and harmful substance abuse. My Government will thus continue to take stern measures to stamp out this growing threat. In the same vein, gun-related crime will not be tolerated.
“Law enforcement agencies and the courts must work in concert to ensure that perpetrators of gun-related crimes, violent drug kingpins, the supply chains, and drug vendors are definitely smoked out and brought to book,” the President said.
Cases of armed robbery and drug abuse have been on the rise in the country with young people, in particular, falling prey to illicit drugs such as crystal meth (mutoriro), a highly addictive stimulant used for its powerful euphoric effects.
However, such ill-practices cannot get the nation ahead or help in the achievement of Vision 2030.
“The late Father Ribeiro was a clean man who hated corruption. The National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and Vision 2030 cannot be realised in an environment that breeds corruption. Equally, we must work together more concertedly to improve the lives of our people. Business people should not confuse profit and profiteering.
“The realisation of Vision 2030 must truly create a middle-income society which leaves no one behind. Let us, therefore, uphold the great values of patriotism, hard honest work, and taking care of the vulnerable within our society, which were embedded in the man we are laying to rest today (yesterday),” he said.
Fr Ribeiro yesterday became the first priest to be interred at the sacred burial shrine with his life’s works befitting for
such an honour, President Mnangagwa said.
“Father Ribeiro is the first-ever cleric to be interred here at the National Heroes Acre. Indeed, the decision to honour him in this very special way was befitting and unanimous. I am aware that the Roman Catholic Church has its own burial arrangements for personages such as the late Father Ribeiro, yet the church, along with the Ribeiro family, accepted Government’s request to have our beloved national hero rested here.
“Thank you, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, and the entire leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. Government does not take this gesture for granted, you have given us one of your own, so that we rest him, together with his liberation war compatriots,” he said.
The late Father Rebeiro, who died last Thursday at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare after a short illness, had a career spanning decades. He was 86.
An author and a researcher into the country’s liberation struggle, he was also a composer of church hymns.
Father Ribeiro helped the country’s independence cause by actively assisting the country’s freedom fighters such as President Mnangagwa escape the unjust penal system of Rhodesia.
“A dark cloud hovers over our country and the Church at large, as we gather here at the National Shrine to lay to rest, mourn, and celebrate the life of our Roman Catholic Cleric Father Emmanuel Francis Ribeiro.
“We thus, mourn a great son of the soil, a Roman Catholic priest, father (Baba), a brother, a comrade, composer, and novelist. He worked tirelessly and used his diverse talents to nurture the souls of many people in our beloved country,” said the President.
The President said the burial of Fr Emmanuel Ribeiro is special considering the many people he saved during his illustrious life.
“I am personally pained by his demise, for our lives and fates intersected under extremely difficult and unenviable circumstances. Those circumstances knit us together, after he saved me from the gallows, with his sheer compassionate goodness and astuteness,” he said.
Apart from introducing Shona literary works during the colonial era, Father Ribeiro was also one of the designers of the national flag and composers of the National Anthem after independence in 1980.
“Today as we lay to rest this unique and celebrated cleric, of wide-ranging talents, the lessons to our nation from his life are many and varied. He saw God manifesting himself in the everyday lives of the people. The life of the late national hero teaches us the importance of righteous simplicity, virtue, morality, and goodness,” said the President.
The President added that the Second Republic will continue to tell the correct Zimbabwean history and reject narratives that depict the country’s struggle for liberation as having been a mindless effort.
The late Father Ribeiro who reconstructed the last moments of the famous Chinhoyi 7, including tracing their family trees across the country, was at the time of his death tracing the final steps of numerous freedom fighters who fell prey to the cruel colonial penal system before independence.
From serving in many rural parishes during the colonial era, the late Father Ribeiro later on dedicated his life catering to the spiritual needs of many freedom fighters, both those who were serving long terms or who were unjustly condemned to death by the country’s erstwhile colonisers.
His burial was held in strict observance of Covid-19 protocols, with few mourners in attendance, while tests were also conducted on anyone who was entering the revered shrine.