Members of Johanne Masowe Church have been fingered in a stand scum in the sprawling town of Chitungwiza where their leader Cecilia Mombeshora bought communal land without the local authority’s approval.

 A three-month investigation that culminated in a report by the town of Chitungwiza in collaboration with communal lands surrounding the town shows that the large apostolic church is also fuelling rapid urbanisation which is now threatening to tear apart the traditional culture.  

“There is rampant sale of communal land as evidenced by the list of beneficiaries of  Madzimai Cecilia Mombeshora of Johanne Masowe sect where beneficiaries paid a whopping $30 000 in cash to the village head Chinhanga after paying $1000 each for a 10m by 30m stand.

“The people are already on the ground and busy with construction. Evidence at hand indicate that the beneficiaries paid monies to Madzimai Celia who then paid for a big chunk of land to the village head and she then further subdivided the land and allocated to her subjects,” reads part of the report.

Built during the colonial period to house labourers, the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, 30 km south of Harare, has exploded and is now home to more than a million people.

With large swathes of open land it has also been home to thousands of white-garment-donning members of the apostolic church who were initially attracted by the late Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira.

But now a showdown is looming after the probe team that comprised of government ministry and affected councils recommended that people like Madzimai Celia be tossed to the police.  

“The perpetrators of the illegal sale of communal land should be brought to justice and councillors in the wards involved should be further investigated and face disciplinary action,” part of the recommendations.

The Johanne Masowe church whose message is about deliverance and healing has proved to be a powerful religion not only in Chitungwiza but across Zimbabwe but now it may suffer a setback in its battle to house its homeless members.