|Ritual triggers outcry|
|Saturday, 11 August 2012 00:00|
About 568 people, some of them war veterans, on Thursday visited Matopos National Park and performed rituals. Chiefs from Matabeleland South, who were not part of the proceedings, immediately condemned the act, saying they were not notified of the visit.
The group, which was made up of former freedom fighters, 25 chiefs and five spirit mediums, arrived in Bulawayo on Thursday morning from Zambia and proceeded to Matopos National Park where they conducted the cleansing ceremony.
The clique brought some stones and soil from Zipra camps in Zambia.
They said the stones, which they dumped in the park, represented the remains of the fallen freedom fighters.
When our sister paper, Chronicle arrived at the scene at Hazel Wood near Matopo Police Station in the afternoon, the group was all over the place with a convoy made up of three 75-seater buses, nine mini-buses, four kombis and two pick-up trucks.
The barefooted members of the group were dressed in black with some putting on animal-skin headgear and carrying traditional pots.
The news crew had a torrid time trying to secure an interview with the group leaders who were on the defensive and accused this publication of sabotaging their programmes with negative publicity.
When they finally agreed to be interviewed, the group leaders said their visit had been sanctioned by senior Government officials.
“What we are doing here has nothing to do with politics. We are genuine war veterans and revolutionaries. It pains us to be told we are claiming to be war veterans,” fumed the leader of the group, who identified himself as Cde Nehoreka.
“We are not in conflict with people of Matabeleland. They are our brothers and sisters . . . this is not the first time we are making visits of this nature. We have the full support of senior politicians. You can ask ministers Francis Nhema, Kembo Mohadi and others. They are aware of our activities. Minister Nhema gave us the game meat we are eating here.
“This issue was discussed in the Politburo and there was consensus among our leaders. That is why we were able to cross the border into Zambia without passports. We have nothing to hide.”
Asked why they did not involve chiefs from Matabeleland South, Cde Nehoreka said the chiefs were aware of their visit, but blamed the media for “blocking” them.
“We thought we were going to meet the chiefs here, but you people blocked them with negative publicity. You have distorted our mission by not telling the truth about us,” he said.
They castigated war veterans’ leader Cde Jabulani Sibanda for calling them renegades and jostled to produce their identity cards to prove their status.
The group said the country needed to be cleansed in order to achieve harmony and meaningful unity. They said the country was not what they fought for. They said their mission was not yet complete and they would return to Matobo.
Chief Chiweshe of Chikomba in Mashonaland East, who was also part of the group, said: “The independence we enjoy today is a result of sacrifices by our heroes and the spirit mediums.”
Chiefs Mathema of Gwanda and Masuku of Matobo arrived at around 4pm when the police had already ordered the group to leave the park. The two chiefs tried to confront the group leaders who were already in their vehicles, but they drove off after a few minutes of interaction.
War veterans from Matabeleland and Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira have also condemned the group.