In 2003 Nzira was jailed for 32 years, later reduced to 20 years, on seven counts of rape and one count of indecent assault involving two women who sought help from him at his shrine. The day Nzira was convicted 2,000 members of his sect went ballistic outside the court, beating up court officials and policemen on duty. Even the magistrate is said to have narrowly escaped death when they pounced on her.
A year before the conviction Nzira had claimed Mugabe was a “divinely appointed king of Zimbabwe and no man should dare challenge his office.” A large size banner at his Chitungwiza shrine even has a picture of Mugabe and Nzira side by side. This bootlicking of Mugabe paid off in January this year when he walked out of prison a free man, courtesy of a presidential pardon.
SW Radio Africa reported how, seven days after being pardoned, Nzira was deployed to the Muzarabani District, which marked the start of a national campaign to coerce members of the Apostolic Sect to support Mugabe and ZANU PF ahead of possible elections. The growing influence of the Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe has seen ZANU PF doing its best to harvest followers there.
The three major Apostolic Sects are reported to command close to 5 million followers within Zimbabwe alone. Of the three, the African Apostolic Church has an estimated 2.5 million members, Johanne Marange 1.5 million and the Johane Masowe WeChishanu around 1 million followers. Nzira led a faction of the Johanne Masowe WeChishanu sect.
In a related issue, on Monday Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede told a Parliamentary Committee that his officials targeted Apostolic Church members during their gatherings and issuing them with national identity documents. Tied in with visits to such gatherings by Mugabe and other ZANU PF officials like Didymus Mutasa, Webster Shamu, Oppah Muchinguri and Saviour Kasukuwere, the strategy is designed to get as many votes from Apostolic members as possible by making sure they have the right documents.
A member of the Johane Masowe WeChishanu sect told SW Radio Africa that Nzira’s faction of the church had ceased to be a church grouping. “Nzira converted his church into a ZANU PF district” he said. He predicted Nzira’s death would lead to a collapse of the church, adding that reports they are getting suggest the Chitungwiza shrine is already being stripped of assets by ‘greedy’ members. – SW Radio AfricaPost published in: News