Barely a month after wielding his powers and making some changes on Masvingo Roman Catholic Diocese by ‘demoting’ former Vica General Father Walter Nyatsanza to position of Priest before replacing him with Reverend Father Samson Mutsvanga, Bishop Michael Dixon Bhasera has called it quits amid speculation that he may have been forced to do so.
72 year-old Bhasera tendered his resignation almost three years before the church’s official retirement age of 75 that is if no ill health conditions would have influenced the decision.
Though the resignation is shrouded in mystery and unclear circumstances, a Press statement dated July 19 was released from the Apostolic Nunciature in Zimbabwe circulated confirming the resignation of Bhasera as accepted by Pope Francis.
“His Holiness Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Masvingo, presented by the Right Reverend Bishop Michael Dixon Bhasera.
“Pending the nomination of a new Bishop, the Most Reverend Robert Christopher Ndlovu ArchBishop of Harare has been appointed Apostolic Administrator and Nutum Sanctae Sedis of the Diocese of Masvingo,” read the statement.
Contacted for comment, Bishop Bhasera referred questions to Vica General Fr Samson Mutsvanga who is the spokesperson for the church.
“You can contact Fr Mutsvanga the Vica General who is the spokesperson,” he said.
Fr Mutsvanga however did not shed much light on the resignation saying the resignation could have been as a result of the Bishop feeling it was time to do so.
“I do not have any comment on the Bishop’s resignation. Even the Press Release did not provide any details or reasons for the resignation,” he said.
Quizzed on the issue of allegations of investigations against the Bishop, Fr Mutsvanga said he knows nothing about such.
“Maybe he just saw it’s high time for him to quit. If there are any allegations, I know nothing about them,” he added.
Bishop Bhasera wrote a letter on May 30 which set June 3 as deadline for the transfers of Father Nyatsanza to St Barbra Bangala Mission while Rev Fr Alex Mukaro was re-assigned to St Vitalis Neshuro as Assistant Priest.
Reports of bad blood between Bhasera and Nyatsanza allegedly emanated from the speech the latter made at a Mass in Bikita while celebrating good 2021 Advanced and Ordinary Level results posted by Silveira Mission where he called for the need for injection of new, younger blood in leadership positions.
However, Bhasera poured cold water on the allegations of the seemingly bad blood between the two saying it was part and parcel of their tradition as the church to re-assign leaders.
“What could be the problem with those changes? Last month we had a number of changes and we are used to that, hence there is nothing new about it.
“If one’s term of office expires, changes are imminent. It’s more like part of our tradition as a church. The changes had nothing to do with what Fr Nyatsanza could have said in Bikita. Whoever said that, could have mistakenly said so,” said Bhasera.
Now that the Bishop has resigned a month after the changes, speculation is rife that it seems he wanted to get rid of Fr Nyatsanza of his influential position before retiring.
Some sources however claim that the now retired Bishop has decided to press the exit route button before explosion of the mess bomb which has bedeviled some catholic schools, lately with Gokomere schools administrators being dragged before the courts for plundering school resources allegedly at the behest of the responsible authority, which is the church.
Parents of learners at both schools approached the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to investigate the school administrators as well as Priest in Charge James Magadzire over misappropriation of funds and the cases are still pending at Masvingo Magistrates court.
The Gokomore CPS trio will be back in court on August 2 after aggrieved parents recently approached the National Prosecuting Authority to facilitate for their timely prosecution as they alleged that it was taking longer than expected, while the administrators continued to be on duty at the school despite having a case at the courts.
Rumors circulating after Bhasera’s resignation were also that there had allegedly been an ongoing investigation by the church emanating from reports of abuse of office also characterized by persecution of perceived enemies including some priests who were ousted by the bishop.
The allegations are also that a certain priest wrote to Rome (church headquarters) exposing the rot in the diocese that instigated the alleged investigations.