Sex, drugs, AG & Shamu at rapist’s shrine

CHITUNGWIZA – Chitungwiza has never seen anything like it before. Sex, drugs and free booze were the order of the day at self-styled prophet Godfrey Nzira’s week-long homecoming party.

Nzira, a convicted rapist, was celebrating his pardon by President Robert Mugabe. Eye witnesses said trucks delivered beer and the faithful, vapositori, helped themselves to the illegal mbanje, while the celebration deteriorated into a sexual orgy at night.

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Nzira killed two cattle a day to feed the hordes who attended, and declared that his war against Mugabe’s perceived enemies had just begun. Among those present were senior Zanu (PF) officials Webster Shamu, Minister of Information and Publicity, and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

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The party at the shrine nestled deep in the indigenous trees adjacent to the Harare-Seke highway started on April 19 and continued until Easter Monday. The entire location reverberated to music from the likes of Alick Macheso and Tongai Moyo spiced up with the music of Mbare Chimurenga.

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Selling beer is by no means a new phenomenon for the ailing prophet, who is a former employee of the National Breweries, now Delta. In his prime as a prophet before he joined Zanu (PF) in the 90s, Nzira ran a shebeen in Seke Unit O.

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“We had a party of a lifetime and there was nothing religious about the party. It was a homecoming party for Nzira but for us it was a way of killing time with free beer and free food,” said a reveller.

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Some even left the beer halls at Makoni Shopping centre, less that 500 metres away from the shrine, to enjoy the free-flowing beer – which was accompanied by mbanje for those who wished to indulge themselves in the illegal drug. But the scale of the beer drinking binge at a religious shrine left many deeply shocked. They said it was a “sacrilege that demeaned the shrine”.

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“It was just too much. The noise was deafening and sleep was difficult,” said a person who lives next to the shrine.

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The religious leader, and supporter of Mugabe’s regime, was seven years into his sentence when he was released.

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Prison authorities said Godfrey Nzira was released on “compassionate” grounds claiming he was suffering from an unrevealed illness.

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But President Mugabe’s opponents, joined by rights and feminist groups, say the controversial release of the church leader was aimed at propping up Mugabe’s political fortunes.

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Nzira, who says Mugabe must rule for life, is a revered and seen as a demi-god by his loyal followers.

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Airport get-together

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He is said to have converted his church into a political movement through his fanatical support for the president. He is known for marshalling thousands of his followers to Mugabe’s meetings.

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Nzira followers usually gather on Harare airport to either welcome or wave goobye when Mugabe flies off on one of his many foreign trips. The religious leader has also been accused of marching his followers to polling stations during elections and forcing them to vote for Mugabe.

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During Zimbabwe’s disputed 2002 presidential election won by Mugabe, his followers, dressed in his church’s white robes, went on the rampage, beating up people in a township near his shrine.

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Feared by police

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The place is known for being a stronghold of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s rival MDC.

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Nzira was feared by police officers some of whom he held captive when they attempted to follow up crime cases at his shrine.

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“This is scandalous! It is because he has political influence. He abused the trust given to him by many women who sought his help,” said Ropafadzo Mapimhidze, who chairs the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe.

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Dying in prison

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Okay Machisa, director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association said Mugabe’s decision to pick on a strong defender of his rule while thousands more faced similar fate was a mockery.

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This is after Mugabe had allowed close to 1000 prisoners to die of hunger and disease in Zimbabwe’s jails between January and June 2009.

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“This is a mockery to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said, “Why should he pardon someone known for defending his rule. How many inmates are in a similar situation but are being allowed to die in jail?”

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Right to pardon

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Attorney General Johannes Tomana and top Mugabe ally insisted that the president enjoys the right to pardon any prisoner of his choice. “The law permits the president to free a prisoner when he is satisfied that the grounds are proper,” Tomana told state media.

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Tvangirai’s opponent party insist that Mugabe’s decision is political and that his ministers have frequented the cult leader’s shrine to seek support.

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“They are so desperate that they would even resurrect the dead to try and prop up their fortunes. You must view the release in the context of an election campaign,” party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa says.

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Mugabe, who is in power since independence in 1980, needs all the support he can get as he faces his serious threats to his rule during the coming election this year. – Plus, The Zimbabwean

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