Among the alleged targets was politburo member Kumbirai Kangai and war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba.
The suspects, Zvenyika Machokoto and Judith Muodzeri, believed to be husband and wife aspiring for higher political office, appeared before a Mutare magistrate and charged with “conspiracy to engage in practices of witchcraft” under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
They were remanded to February 16 on US$50 bail each.
The court heard that sometime last week, the two allegedly consulted a self-styled prophet, Jimmy Motsi, in Bindura district and asked him to concoct witchcraft-induced methods to kill their Zanu PF rivals whom they accused of thwarting their rise through the party’s ranks.
On the couple’s hit list were Kangai, Chinotimba, Buhera North Member of Parliament William Mutomba, Tapiwa Zengeya, Kenneth Madziturira and Saul Tsuma – all senior Zanu PF members in Buhera district.
If the “assassination” plot succeeded, the court heard, the two would stand a better chance of campaigning to represent Zanu PF in the parliamentary and senate elections widely expected this year. In turn, they promised to pay the prophet handsomely.
Reports of Zanu PF officials seeking help from traditional or spiritual leaders is nothing new. Their gullibility was exposed in 2008 when they were duped by a female school drop-out posing as a n’anga to believe she could extract refined petroleum from rocks.
Gordon Chavunduka, the president of the 50,000-member Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association (ZINATHA), blamed the Bindura incident on lack of internal democracy within Zanu PF.
Chavunduka told the Voice of America’s Studio 7 on Tuesday that the lack of succession debate in Zanu PF was encouraging witchcraft within the party.
“I agree yes, any situation like that would create witchcraft to those who believe in it,” he said.
Under Zimbabwean law, witchcraft is a criminal offense punishable by a fine or a five-year jail term.