Sacred shrine grab torches storm

Chief Seke

TRADITIONAL leaders in Marimo village, Seke rural in Mashonaland East province, have torched a firestorm after they allegedly parcelled out a sacred shrine in the area to an apostolic faith sect.

Chief Seke, born Stanley Chimanikire, Makombera village heads Givemore Mutawu and one Garanganga, born Solomon Kaseke, reportedly sold the Harava shrine to Varume Vatatu sect, courting the ire of villagers and other worshippers.

The sect, led by Gideon Marato, Sydion Kapfuchira and John Chinomona, has since fenced off the area, barring villagers including traditionalists and other worshippers from performing their rituals, traditional practices and other expressions at the shrine.

Villagers told NewsDay during a visit to the area on Tuesday that Chief Seke and some village heads were bribed by the apostolic sect to give away the shrine.

“This area has always been sacred. It’s surprising that Mutawu sold it. The buyers bribed the chief by building him a toilet. Many apostolic sects in Zimbabwe came to worship here, but not anymore,” Mutangadura village head Clever Kahari said.

“And we also came to do traditional activities here. But now, we can’t do that because the area is fenced. We appeal to the President [Emmerson Mnangagwa] to help us save this sacred area. Since he said he is a listening President, we hope he will listen to us and intervene,” he added.

A member of the Johane Masowe Apostolic Church, Ndanatsei “Madzibaba Moses” Chabikwa, said he was told by the “invaders” that they built a house for Mutawu.

“I was blocked at the gate by men who claimed to have built a house for Mutawu. We are not happy because we came here for healing and deliverance,” Chabikwa said.

Village head Elias Marimo said he was surprised to see the area fenced.

“We saw Harava fenced and didn’t understand why this happened. It’s a sacred area in my village. We then visited Chief Seke and he told us to look for the person who sold the place,” Marimo said.

“We then went to Manyame Rural District Council (RDC) offices in Dema and were told that it was sold. From investigations, we discovered that Mutawu was involved and he was backed by 40 people. We went back to the chief, but nothing happened.”

Manyame RDC chief executive officer Farirai Guta said she would dispatch the council’s security team to the area to investigate.

“In Seke, we have problems with land barons. We have been to the courts several times with this issue and the greatest challenge was lack of evidence. The villagers are the major culprits,” Guta said.

“No one has the right to sell communal land. Its allocation rests with the council, which is the land authority. No land should be allocated without its consent,” she said.

Contacted for comment, Mutawu said: “I know nothing about that. Yes, it’s fenced, but I am not the one who sold it.”

Repeated efforts to obtain a comment from Chief Seke were fruitless.

Members of the Varume Vatatu sect refused to entertain questions from NewsDay during a visit to the area.

However, Zanu PF district co-ordinating committee secretary for production and labour Ngoni Panashe said the issue could be best solved through traditional channels.

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