LOCAL apostolic sects popularly known as Vapositori yesterday snubbed President Robert Mugabe after only a handful of them turned up for the burial of Zanu PF politburo member and former Cabinet minister Nathan Shamuyarira at the national Heroes’ Acre in Harare.
Our sister paper The Standard could not immediately establish whether the poor attendance from the men of the cloth was to show solidarity with the arrested sect members for assaulting police officers in Harare last week or it was out of fear of arrest.
In the past, the vapositori, who are well known for their support of Mugabe’s Zanu PF party would throng State funerals, turning their section of the national shrine into a sea of white with their religious attire.
But yesterday, it was a different story as most of the chairs usually reserved for them were empty.
The development comes hot on the heels of last week’s arrest of sect members over the assault of journalists and police officers at a shrine in Harare’s Budiriro high-density suburb.
Twenty eight vapositori from the Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani-led Johane Masowe weChishanu are currently languishing in remand prison for battering riot police, journalists and members of the Johannes Ndanga Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ). They were denied bail by Harare provincial magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe.
On May 30, Ndanga went to Madzibaba Ishmael’s Budiriro shrine in the company of 26 police officers to announce a ban of the church for alleged abuse of girls by the male sect members. The abuses included denial of education for the girl child and marrying her off at a tender age.
It was also alleged that fathers test their daughters’ virginity by inserting their fingers in the girls’ private parts.
The ACCZ president is said to have addressed the delegates and ordered the police to arrest one of the sect members who was protesting, a development which did not go down well with other sect members who promptly broke into the insightful Umambo wemapfumo neropa song before bashing the police details with their shepherd’s rods.
ZBC journalists Relax Mafurutu and Tichaona Meza, nine police officers and ACCZ member Langton Muchena sustained head and various injuries.
The attack triggered 28 arrests from the police. Zanu PF youths in the company of the police and ACCZ members later demolished Madzibaba Ishmael’s Budiriro shrine.
Police are hunting down Madzibaba Ishmael, who is still at large after he abandoned his Budiriro residence to avoid arrest.
Meanwhile, MDC-T officials were conspicuous by their absence from the funeral with only the acting guardian’s council president Sekai Holland gracing the event as she usually does.
Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has repeatedly snubbed burial of heroes.
He has often accused Zanu PF of bias in the selection of heroes. Yesterday Mugabe scoffed at the MDC-T and once again described party members as rejects which do not deserve to be honoured because they had done nothing for the country except selling out.