HARARE – As the Zanu PF war to succeed President Robert Mugabe escalates, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was at the weekend caught up in bizarre church rituals in Mt Darwin, where a popular prophet told the gathered crowd that the VP needed help to ascend to the presidency.

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By Fungi Kwaramba

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The VP visited the revered Madzibaba Wimbo shrine after going to Mashonaland Central on Saturday, ostensibly to help raise funds for a new school there.

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He was subsequently told by the mysterious 92-year-old prophet, Madzibaba Wimbo —who is also known as Mudzidzi Majinesta — that he needed much prayer and assistance to succeed Mugabe. The Daily News crew witnessed all the proceedings having gained entry pretending to be congregants.

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Wimbo is pivotal in Zanu PF’s fractious succession politics as he is said to have predicted in 1957 that Mugabe would lead the country in 1980. His multitude of avid followers also believe that he knows Mugabe’s successor, although he has not yet definitively pronounced on this.

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Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa performs rituals at an apostolic shrine.

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And so, it was amid much excitement and anticipation on the extremely hot day that the frail nonagenarian prophet suddenly rose from his seat and directed Mnangagwa to follow him around the shrine — even though Wimbo had initially said that he was neither going to speak nor perform any duties — and started to prophesy with fervent intensity.

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Wimbo walked with so much difficulty, that it required two men to support him as he hobbled around the grounds, with Mnangagwa in tow, and as many of his followers, seemingly overcome by the occasion and the spectacle, went into trances.

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Speaking through an interpreter, Wimbo said, “Anoda kubatsirwa, angazvigona seiko ari oga. Handizive kuti ndoita zvipiko. Vari kunditeera nditeverei  nekuno (Mnangagwa needs help as he can’t do anything on his own. I don’t know what I should do to help him).

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As he spoke, his followers roared with many — dressed in pink, white, sky blue and light green garments — speaking in indecipherable tongues.

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However, and rather anticlimactically, the prophecy was brief and inconclusive, leaving the crowds in what appeared to be painful suspense. According to legend, Wimbo prophesied in 1957 that independent Zimbabwe would be ruled by a man carrying the name of the angel Gabriel, which came to pass in April 1980 with Mugabe — whose middle name is Gabriel — becoming the nation’s prime minister.

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And with Mugabe now in the twilight of his life and long political career, the church’s followers are convinced that their leader will soon reveal the country’s future leader — a view that some Zanu PF bigwigs appear to believe.

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With deadly factional and succession wars ripping the post-congress Zanu PF apart, Wimbo’s pronouncement on the next leader of the country has become even more sought-after, hence the excitement when he hosted Mnangagwa.

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In the meantime, Wimbo’s church is also wracked by debilitating fights, with his three wives and children estranged from him and only following him from the safety of their houses as they say they are afraid of the sect’s violent congregants whom they accuse of having kidnapped Wimbo.

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“We did not attend the visit by the VP because we did not want to take risks because the people surrounding Mudzidzi these days are murderous.

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“We only hope that they allowed him time with the VP because we are sure that he would have told the VP that he wants to come back home to his family,” Exnevia Gomo, one of the sons — a University of Zimbabwe-trained medical doctor — told the Daily News.

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Wimbo’s family also alleges that some members of the church murdered a fellow church follower, Jacob Zifungo, on March 16, 2014, in connivance with Wimbo’s fourth wife, in a desperate bid to wrestle control of the church, and allegedly also using Mnangagwa’s name.

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The murder suspects, who are currently on bail, in turn accuse Wimbo’s children of supporting deposed former Vice President Joice Mujuru, in a move that has baffled many followers.

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In a country bedevilled by tumultuous political wars, religion is often a source of strength, and at times the means to power for many politicians.

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Mugabe himself has often donned white apostolic sect garments in moves that have strengthened the position of religion in national politics.

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Observers told the Daily News that it was thus unsurprising that his under-fire deputy walked the same path when he visited Wimbo’s shrine on Saturday.

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“When I was invited here, my King, President Robert Mugabe, had gone out to the United Nations so I did not reply because I wanted to get clearance first. So, I called him in New York (United States) and told him about the invitation.

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“I said to him the church plans to build a school and with your love for education, I  hope you view it in that light without suspecting that I am up to no good . So will you allow me to go and be with them?

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“And he duly cleared me to come, hence I am here with you,” the gushing Mnangagwa told Wimbo’s followers.

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“When he came back I reminded him that I would be coming here and he gave me his blessings and said I should pass his regards to you.

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“To the prophet I say to you, truly, truly speaking, there is only one prophet at a time and we have a prophet in you,” he added.

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Sadly, there was not to be a profound political prophesy on Saturday, as many of Mnangagwa’s followers may have hoped. – Daily News

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