An Irish Franciscan priest who has been living in Zimbabwe for 50 years says he is hopeful for the future of the country.
Fr Walter Gallahue, a parish priest in Harare, told The Irish Catholic that everything was “very peaceful” in the capital.
“There is no sense of panic, we are waiting to see what will happen,” he said.
The Irish priest was speaking just before outgoing President Robert Mugabe bowed to pressure and announced his resignation.
Mr Mugabe insisted his resignation had been voluntary, but it came as parliament was due to begin debating his impeachment.
Speaking to The Irish Catholic as it went to press this week amidst growing uncertainty in the southern African country, Fr Gallaghue said: “There is widespread hope that under a new leader we can begin to turn around the economy. This is a huge hope.”
Mugabe, his vice president and all those in power were “part of the armed struggle” of the 1970s in Zimbabwe against white rule, he said, which he had witnessed at first hand. “I was here during the armed struggle and the people protected me. I was the only white man in a 40 mile radius.”
Fr Gallahue, who hails from Rosslare, ministered in rural areas for many decades, but in recent years he has been parish priest of a large urban parish, Glen Norah, in Harare with around 3,000 Catholics.
The order in Zimbabwe, which is part of the Irish Province, has six houses – three in Harare, and three in outlying areas. The Franciscans serve in parishes or run houses for their students in formation – around 25 at the moment.
For Fr Walter, Zimbabwe it is home. “They are wonderful people. I pray to God that things will go well for them.”