The mayhem that happened in Harare’s Budiriro high-density suburb on Friday as marauding members of the Johane Masowe weChishanu sect ran riot, beating up anti-riot police officers, journalists and Johannes Ndanga-led Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) officials is a sad reminder of a country at crossroads.
Zimbabwe’s economy is stagnant and multitudes of people are seeking solace in churches where they have unknowingly been abused without recourse – itself a sad development.
The sad reality is that if this one incident is not quickly contained it can replicate and manifest itself in various forms given that these people have in the past been used by Zanu PF to further its interests, especially during election periods. The majority are tired of political abuse by those in power hence people might sympathise with them and continue to undermine the authority of the police.
Zimbabweans will now watch with keen interests how Zanu PF will react to this dastard behaviour by multitudes of its followers who always grace its major rallies especially as they reacted angrily to the police force.
The Budiriro incident should not be taken in isolation as most politicians, among them President Robert Mugabe, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Zanu PF political commissar Webster Shamu and politburo member Ignatius Chombo, among others have in the past graced their sermons seeking divine intervention in their waning political fortunes.
This level of lawlessness has gone viral such that when church members, who according to Biblical principles, are supposed to be messengers of peace become wild and bludgeon law enforcement agents, it becomes suspect.
Zimbabweans do not have short memories — they may have an idea of why this apostolic sect bashed people injuring nine police officers, two ZBC staffers and one ACCZ official Lameck Chitope.
Ndanga told journalists after the melee that his ACCZ and the police had gone to the shrine to enforce a ban after reports of human rights abuses in the church involving denial of children’s educational rights and allegations of fathers allowed to inspect their daughters’ virginity using their fingers, among a host of other issues.
While it is important for the police to contain lawlessness in the country, the law enforcement agents should investigate the root cause of this act. Is this apostolic sect a member of Ndanga’s ACCZ?
If not where is Ndanga deriving the authority to regulate other apostolic sects? Is Ndanga’s apostolic church entirely clean?
Zimbabweans do not condone Madzibaba Eshmael’s sect alleged human rights abuses, but one would want to believe that most apostolic sects have lived like that for many years because of their link to Zanu PF. They have committed human rights abuses too numerous to mention.
The country is reminded of the late Godfrey Nzira also of the same sect, late Zanu PF political commissar Border Gezi, Elliot Manyika, who always surrounded themself with the apostolic sects and of course Lawrence Katsiru, a top Zanu PF official and party Mashonaland East commisar, who was arrested for alleged human rights abuses similar to the ones labeled against this Budiriro sect.
Could it be that the Budiriro sect is now being victimised because its leader is now deemed excess to requirements or what?
This is why the police must investigate the matter and let the law take its course in an impartial manner.