THE ascendancy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has provided fresh fighting grounds between the followers and family of Johane Masowe eChishanu Vadzidzi VaJesu Church founder Aaron Mhukuta Gomo, commonly known as Madzibaba Wimbo.

For a long time, the church is alleged to have abducted the revered religious leader from his homestead to a shrine and his family has fought over control of the 95-year-old prophet.

The fight sucked in Zanu PF factions, the G40 led by the then First Lady Grace Mugabe and Team Lacoste led by now President Mnangagwa in the belief that the prophet had the power to anoint Zimbabwe’s rulers.

The church leadership, self-confessed Mnangagwa loyalists, on Sunday reportedly led a group of more than 100 armed followers to Wimbo’s homestead and removed asbestos sheets and window panes at several houses.

They claimed the houses were part of church property and as such Wimbo’s followers could not stay in the open while his family enjoyed church benefits.

Following the violent destruction on Sunday, NewsDay visited both the family and the followers to get both sides of the story.

The church boasts of a huge shrine with several properties including a state-of-art double storey school, modern houses and many top-of-range vehicles.

Previously, accommodation for church members was provided at Wombo’s homestead, but since he does not want to set his foot at the homestead anymore, as alleged by the church members, there was no need to keep church property at the homestead.

The church members who alleged the police were biased towards Wimbo’s family since they took instructions from Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, declared tables had been turned and no one would dare stop them, even the highest rank and file of police.

The church secretary-general and spokesperson Shepherd Chingwena, who doubles as the school head, started by giving the church’s background declaring that it did not follow that family members have a place in church leadership.

“The people who went and took housing material at Mudzidzi’s homestead had every right to do so because those houses were meant for the sick who would come from different areas across the country,” Chingwena said

“It’s now over two years since Mudzidzi voluntarily left his homestead to stay at the shrine so church members went to take their property since those houses are church property. They didn’t destroy anyone’s property.

“Those claiming we destroyed the homestead are pursuing an agenda to soil our names as they often do. They call us names such as murderers, thieves, rapists and so on, but they are driven by malice. Police came here and officials from the President’s Office came and realised they were being fed with wrong information.

“They are jealous because they wanted to be elevated into the church officials yet they are drunkards and do all dirty things that disqualify them from the leadership. The Holy Spirit doesn’t allow such things.

“Johanne [the founder], who started the church in 1931, didn’t anoint any of his family members in church leadership or anyone from his place of origin. These things have nothing to do with family lineage as Wimbo’s children want to do now.”

Chingwena did not hide the church leadership’s love for Mnangagwa, who donated building materials and cash towards the construction of the church school. He said had it taken a bit longer for him to ascend, things would be different now as those aligned to G40 wanted to destroy the shrine.

He revealed that Wimbo made a prophecy in August 1997 that Mnangagwa would lead Zimbabwe, but did not make it public fearing that he would be killed.

“Mnangagwa’s ascendancy was prophesied, but it was kept a closely guarded secret since 1997. When he came to our fundraising on October 3, 2015, he was prayed for after the Holy Spirit said his time to rule has arrived. Mugabe’s time ended after his tenure at the African Union.

“Mnangagwa was even given a new name after that fundraising. It was impossible to say it all along because Mugabe was still there.”

However, his family dismissed the claim, maintaining the “zealots” captured their father for personal gain.

Chingwena did not hide the church leadership’s love for Mnangagwa, who donated building materials and cash towards the construction of the church school. He said had it taken a bit longer for him to ascend, things would be different now as those aligned to G40 wanted to destroy the shrine.

He revealed that Wimbo made a prophecy in August 1997 that Mnangagwa would lead Zimbabwe, but did not make it public fearing that he would be killed.

“Mnangagwa’s ascendancy was prophesied, but it was kept a closely guarded secret since 1997. When he came to our fundraising on October 3, 2015, he was prayed for after the Holy Spirit said his time to rule has arrived. Mugabe’s time ended after his tenure at the African Union.

“Mnangagwa was even given a new name after that fundraising. It was impossible to say it all along because Mugabe was still there.”

However, his family dismissed the claim, maintaining the “zealots” captured their father for personal gain.

They equated the shrine to Gorongoza Mountains in Mozambique where Renamo insurgents stay and plan disturbances from.

They described Sunday’s events as unfortunate.

“Our father was taken in 2015 to the shrine and we were denied access to him. Some people were barred from stepping foot at the shrine and the church broke into two. Those at the Gorongoza [shrine] are keeping him against his will. Family members who set foot there to see our father were attacked,” his child and local headman Abneshian Gomo said.

“We went to see Mugabe over this issue and he set up a ministerial committee including Kembo Mohadi, Sydney Sekeramayi, Martin Dinha and Saviour Kasukuwere to look into the matter. It was passed that our father return home, but it didn’t happen.

“To our surprise, when Mnangagwa was inaugurated those at Gorongoza [shrine] came here on Sunday claiming it was their prayers that made it possible for Mnangagwa to be President, hence, as a follow-up they had come to destroy our houses. They violently removed the asbestos sheets and windows claiming they were part of Mnangagwa’s team.”

Gomo said they made a report to the police, but nothing happened.

Patience Gomo said it was unfair for church leaders to come in the name of Mnangagwa and commit crimes. He said as a national leader, Mnangagwa must publicly chastise those church leaders and allow the family to have access to their father.

“Mugabe left without a solution. We expect Mnangagwa to show true leadership by solving this as a matter of urgency. We are his children, but those strangers are stealing from the church, taking advantage of his (Wimbo) advanced age,” she said.

Rutendo Gomo said the family was worried about their father’s welfare.