The mad-scramble within President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF to control the frail and mysterious leader of a secretive religious sect, Madzibaba Wimbo, is intensifying — with the 94-year-old now living under 24-hour guard by soldiers armed to the teeth, who have made his shrine a no-go area.
This comes as some of Mugabe’s top securocrats, including police chief commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and army chief of staff Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, are said to be locked in the vicious battle to control the enigmatic prophet.
Wimbo — the head of the Mount Darwin-based Johane Masowe Vadzidzi Vajesu Church — is famed for having allegedly foretold 60 years ago that Zimbabwe would be led by a man with the name of an angel, Gabriel, with the prophecy allegedly coming to pass when Mugabe, whose middle name is Gabriel, took power from the British in April 1980.
Now brawling Zanu PF factions are fighting each other viciously over the aged prophet, hoping that he will have a decisive influence over the ruling party’s toxic succession saga.
In a statement to the Daily News yesterday, Madzibaba Wimbo’s family claimed that the soldiers who are guarding him on a 24-hour basis have increased their security at his shrine, completely cutting off the family from having any access to him.
Wimbo’s son, Exnevia Gomo — a medical professor — also accused Ishmael Magodi, Zex Pamacheche, Shepherd Chingwena and Edison Mukohwa, who are the prophet’s so-called four church prefects, of having abducted Wimbo on June 29 last year to further their interests as well as the political motives of some Zanu PF bigwigs.
“The four, because of their closeness to Wimbo, made contacts with senior politicians and government officials and fed a lot of bull to the politicians,” Gomo said.
“It is not surprising that today there is a military base just a few hundred metres from VaWimbo’s homestead, and that there are military personnel in the shrine, purportedly to guard him.
“From whom against, we don’t know.
“It is true that VaWimbo has great bearing on the political landscape in the country. This bearing, and the ability to see the future was taken out of context by the four with the deliberate intention to over-politicise the church for the furtherance of their political ambitions and cover their corrupt activities,” he added.
In July this year, Mugabe went to the extent of holding a lengthy meeting in Bindura with Wimbo’s family and his security chiefs, in a bid to get to the bottom of, and to resolve the long-running “abduction” saga of the popular prophet.
This was after the nonagenarian had been petitioned to intervene in the matter, following the alleged assault of high-ranking police officers related to Wimbo by the soldiers guarding him and his shrine.
Mugabe subsequently set up a ministerial committee headed by State Security minister Kembo Mohadi to try and break the impasse over Wimbo, and to investigate the claims of thuggery by the soldiers at the shrine.
Gomo said yesterday that it was disturbing that despite Mugabe’s visit and the subsequent meeting which had called for his father to be returned home, Wimbo remained “abducted”.
“It is also not surprising that VaWimbo’s issue has attracted national and heavy political interests. Recently, Mugabe — having called for the meeting with the four prefects and VaWimbo family on July 8 — concluded that the detention of VaWimbo in the shrine was improper . . . instructed his release and return to his family, but the four have defied this instruction.
Equally concerning is that the five-member ministerial committee established by Mugabe to facilitate VaWimbo’s return home has so far not managed to resolve the issue. One wonders whether there is a third and hidden element that can defy the president. And why? Surely this is no longer about religion,” he said.
According to Gomo, the quartet which is part of the group allegedly holding his father hostage, fear that if he is ever allowed to return to his family their plan to influence the country’s politics would crumble, and “will expose the lies that they have peddled to church members alike”.
Further fingering the quartet — which is not related to Wimbo — of having committed a series of heinous crimes ranging from extortion, adultery and murder, Gomo said that they had roped in senior politicians for protection.
“The four prefects, in particular Magodi, Pamacheche and Mukohwa masterminded the scheme of torturing church members that resulted in the broad daylight murder of Jacob Zifungo on March 16, 2014. Mukohwa and several church youths are currently on bail on the murder case,” he said.
Wimbo’s family has been consistent in claiming that the deadly tribal, factional and succession wars that are devouring Zanu PF, and pitting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters against the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks who go by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), was one of the main reasons why Mudzidzi Wimbo had been “abducted” in a desperate bid to get his blessing.
It has also accused Nyikayaramba in particular of having allegedly taken over security matters at the church thuggishly, where the top securocrat is now referred to as the security chief for Wimbo’s church, even as he is still in full time military service.
Family members have also told of how Nyikayaramba and Chihuri have allegedly and repeatedly clashed over the frail prophet, further claiming that during the meeting with Mugabe in July, the two had openly traded barbs in front of the president.
“Chihuri was angry when Nyikayaramba seemed to suggest that he (Chihuri) was using his position to disturb the peace at Wimbo’s shrine by sending police officials from outside the province to deal with the matter.
“He (Chihuri) immediately interrupted him demanding to know who had deployed the army there. He accused Nyikayaramba of being behind the deployment and an argument ensued, with Mugabe and his ministers watching quietly.
“By the time the meeting ended, nobody had taken responsibility for the military presence. Masoja akashaya muridzi (no one took responsibility for the soldiers’ presence there) prompting the president to direct that the matter be investigated further,” one of the family members told the Daily News at the time.
Chihuri and Wimbo are blood relations, with the police chief’s father said to have been responsible for raising the leader of the secretive apostolic sect, after his mother died soon after he was born.
On his part, Nyikayaramba has previously told the Daily News that he would only speak on the matter once Mohadi and his team have presented their findings.
“Like I said earlier, the matter is before the president and so it would be disrespectful for me to give you my views at the moment. Why don’t you just wait until the commission investigating the issue finishes its job?” he said then.
Last year, Mnangagwa visited Wimbo at his shrine and got involved in a bizarre church rite, with the popular prophet telling the gathering that the VP needed help if he were to ascend to the presidency.
Mnangagwa was also told by Wimbo, who is also known as Mudzidzi Majinetsa, that it was time that he got others around him to put their shoulders on the wheel to help him in his ambitions.