Serial rapist pardoned

HARARE - Multiple rapist Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira has been freed from jail after serving only half of his 15-year sentence for raping seven women.

His pardon is believed to be of a plot by President Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) to feed on Nziras booming sect membership in order to boost its dwindling ranks and remain in power. The rapist is one of the Johane Masowe WeChishanu Apostolic Church leaders, but was better known for heading the African Apostolic Faith sect. Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, approved the pardon, also signed

by the President, ostensibly on health grounds, freeing the sexual predator convicted in 2003 of sexual battery, lewd and lascivious assault of several women. He was jailed amid protests by women outside the courts. One placard said: “Nzira rot in jail.” Now he has been freed in what sources say is a manoeuvre to exploit his religious charisma to bolster Zanu (PF) membership.

The Zanu (PF) Commissariat, led by Webster Shamu, is said to have recommended the pardon. While it is apparent that Nzira is ailing, his release has raised eyebrows. The prisons are overflowing with ailing inmates, some in far worse condition than Nzira. His release also comes as Zanu (PF) is preparing for a critical election, and at a time it has courted sect leaders to woo their members to boost its ranks. “I was released on

medical grounds, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure,” he said from his Chitungwiza shrine on Thursday. The pardon has caused outrage. He could have been released from prison on health grounds. There was no need to pardon him. That means the slate is wiped clean. This is a travesty of justice, said a womens movement activist. Zanu (PF)s marriage of convenience with the polygamous Apostolic Faith sect dates back to the 2000 parliamentary elections, when the partys chief campaign strategist, the late Border Gezi, converted to the sect.

Nzira openly campaigned for Mugabe in the 2002 presidential election. At a prayer day in Harare in February 2002, Mugabe addressed an audience, which included hundreds of sect members, lifting placards inscribed with Zanu (PF) political messages. Nzira prophesied that Mugabe was divinely appointed King of Zimbabwe and no man should dare challenge his office. The various Apostolic sects have lately stepped up a blasphemous campaign aimed at propping up Mugabe’s leadership as “God’s plan for Zimbabwe.”

Family of God, Apostolic Faith Mission parishioners have in recent days complained of having to listen to political messages in church. Several senior Zanu (PF) officials including Aeneas Chigwedere, Saviour Kasukuwere, Webster Shamu, Ignatius Chombo and Chris Mushowe have in recent days taken to the pulpit to praise Mugabe’s social, agricultural and economic policies and attack his critics and rivals mainly the popular MDC leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

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