Traditional healers in Zimbabwe have called upon relevant authorities to bring to book traditional leaders who allow bogus spiritual healers, commonly known as tsikamutandas to operate in their areas.

The call was made by the founding president of Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association (ZINPA), an affiliate of Traditional Medical Practitioners Council, Friday Chisanyu, in an interview with Sunday News late last year.

Mr Chisanyu said some traditional leaders were conniving with tsikamundas to swindle vulnerable villagers under the guise of performing exorcism.

He added that such traditional leaders should be charged with fraud as well as under the Witchcraft Suppression Act, for aiding and abetting the fraudsters and witch-hunters.

“Under the Witchcraft Suppression Act it is criminal to accuse someone of practising witchcraft, and that is what these tsikamundas are doing. Our biggest worry is that some chiefs, headmen and village heads allow these fraudsters to operate in their areas because they also benefit from the activities.

If a tsikamutanda charges five head of cattle to perform his rituals at a certain homestead, he pays part of that to traditional leaders, usually in cash. What we are saying is that such traditional leaders should be arrested, be charged with fraud for aiding and abetting criminal activities.” he said.

Mr Chisanyu said the issue of tsikamutandas should be declared a national disaster as the tricksters were leaving many families in poverty after demanding payment in the form of livestock for performing exorcism exercises.

“If you look at it, most of these tsikamutandas target members of the community who have the capacity to pay what they demand. I have never heard of a poor man accused of witchcraft by these people. These tsikamutandas are young people and operate in areas far away from where they come from, which brings a lot of questions regarding their authenticity,” Mr Chisanyu said.

The traditional healers’ leader also called for the decentralisation of the registration of traditional healers saying such a move will allow traditional healers who know their people to vet dubious healers from authentic ones.

He was, however, quick to mention that strict mechanisms had to be put in place to ensure that the traditional leaders would not connive with the unscrupulous healers as is the case with tsikamutandas and other traditional leaders.

In December 2012, traditional healers from across the country converged at Zvamabande Rural Hospital in Shurugwi area, Midlands Province, to commemorate the African Traditional Medicines Day.

Several officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council were present at the event.

See related reading

Traditional Medical Practitioners Council urges unregistered witch hunters to get licences