HARARE – There is gnashing of teeth among Zanu PF’s superstitious bigwigs who are engaged in a deadly dogfight to succeed President Robert Mugabe — after revered prophet, Madzibaba Wimbo, apparently completely ruled out any of them taking over from the wily, but increasingly frail nonagenarian.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday that the mysterious Wimbo — who is acclaimed for having allegedly foretold that Mugabe would rule Zimbabwe more than two decades before the nonagenarian came to power — “has finally spoken” on Zanu PF’s bitterly-contested succession.
The famous seer — who has been subjected to significant abuse in the brawling ruling party over the past few years, as the former liberation movement’s major factions fought to control him — had apparently prophesied recently that a new leader would emerge in Zimbabwe after next year’s eagerly-anticipated national elections.
“He has made another prophesy that a new leader will emerge next year, but did not give names. However, he said the new leader is not among the current favourites who are engaged in Zanu PF’s succession battles, but is an outsider,” one of the sources at the secretive church said.
Having correctly predicted Mugabe’s rise to the throne in 1957, Wimbo has emerged as an influential and much-sought-after cult figure in Zanu PF — with party bigwigs firmly of the belief that he will anoint the former liberation movement’s next leader.
“The prophet said the person who will next lead Zimbabwe will have a ‘foreign name’ and that there will be great suffering in the country for some months. He also predicted that the army will intervene in politics,” the first source claimed.
The Daily News recently reported that Mugabe’s spirited efforts to “rescue” Wimbo, who is said to have been “abducted” by one of Zanu PF’s factions, were dead in the water, with the prophet’s church also splitting into two due to ugly infighting linked to the ruling party’s deadly succession wars.
The multitudes of followers of Wimbo — the head of the Mount Darwin-based Johane Masowe Vadzidzi Vajesu Church — fervently believe that he prophesied in 1957 that Zimbabwe would be led by a man with the name of an angel, Gabriel; with the prophecy allegedly coming to pass when Mugabe, whose middle name is Gabriel, took power from the British in April 1980.
Tragically for Wimbo and his family, brawling Zanu PF factions have continued to fight each other viciously over the frail prophet, 95, in the seemingly vain hope that he will have a decisive influence over the ruling party’s toxic factional and succession wars.
Some aggrieved family members of the mysterious Wimbo confirmed to the Daily News recently that his church had now split due to infighting linked to Zanu PF’s ugly brawls, which they claim led to the “kidnapping” of their father by one of the ruling party’s factions two years ago.
At the same time, a number of Mugabe’s top securocrats — including police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, and army major general Douglas Nyikayaramba, who are both members of Wimbo’s church — also stand accused of fuelling the sect’s divisions.
Chihuri and Wimbo are blood relations, with the police chief’s father said to have been responsible for raising the leader of the secretive apostolic sect, after his mother had died soon after he was born.
Narrating to the Daily News how desperate Zanu PF bigwigs were convinced that Wimbo knows the person who will succeed Mugabe, the prophet’s children said then that they had concluded that the government’s ministerial committee which the president set up last year to secure the cleric’s release from his “captors” had completely failed in its mandate.
Wimbo’s distressed son, Abinashen Gomo — who accuses Ishmael Magodi, Zex Pamacheche, Shepherd Chingwena and Edison Mukohwa (so-called church prefects) of having allegedly abducted Wimbo on June 29, 2015 for the furtherance of their Zanu PF factional interests — said Mugabe’s team had done little tangible to help the situation.
“Since they came with a helicopter and landed at the shrine last year, and held meetings with the people there without even talking to us his children, grandchildren and wives, nothing has changed because our father is still there and we still can’t talk to him.
“We have since lost hope as they (Wimbo’s alleged abductors) have defied the president. It looks like even the president can’t do anything about it,” the despondent Gomo said.
“Now what has happened is that the church has all but split into two, with us and other church members in the village and surrounding areas congregating at home, while they (the other group) do their service at his shrine, with both camps pledging allegiance to Mudzidzi’s (Wimbo’s) leadership.
“However, on a sad note, other members have since left for other churches while some have quit worshipping altogether out of frustration,” he added.
In July last year, Mugabe was forced to intervene in the dispute, including holding a lengthy meeting in Bindura with Wimbo’s family and his security chiefs, in a desperate bid to get to the bottom of, and to resolve the long-running “abduction” saga of the popular prophet.
This was after the nonagenarian had been petitioned to intervene in the matter, following the alleged assault of high-ranking police officers related to Wimbo by the soldiers who are now guarding the prophet and his shrine day and night.
Mugabe subsequently set up a ministerial committee headed by State Security minister Kembo Mohadi, to try and break the impasse over Wimbo, and to investigate the claims of thuggery by the soldiers at the shrine.
The ministerial team also included the ministers of Defence and Home Affairs, Sydney Sekeramayi and Ignatius Chombo, respectively.
In 2015, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited Wimbo at his shrine and got involved in a bizarre church rite, with the popular prophet telling the gathering that the VP needed help if he were ever to ascend to the presidency.
Mnangagwa was told by Wimbo, who is also known as Mudzidzi Majinetsa, that it was time that he got others around him to put their shoulders to the wheel to help him in his mooted presidential ambitions.
Gomo told the Daily News that there was fear by Wimbo’s “captors” that if Wimbo was ever allowed to return to his family, their plan to have him influence the country’s politics would crumble.
He said it was disturbing that despite Mugabe’s visit and subsequent meeting with some of the players involved in the sad saga, Wimbo remained “abducted”.
“Equally concerning is that the five-member ministerial committee established by Mugabe to facilitate VaWimbo’s return home has so far not managed to resolve the issue.
“One wonders whether there is a third and hidden element that continues to defy the president. But why? Surely, this is not about religion,” he said.
Gomo also claimed last year that the so-called church prefects were part of the group holding his father hostage, fearing that if he was ever allowed to return to his family their plan to influence the country’s politics would crumble, and “expose all the lies that they have peddled to church members”.
Further fingering the quartet — which is not related to Wimbo — of having committed a series of heinous crimes ranging from extortion, adultery and murder, Gomo said they had roped in senior politicians for protection as they sought to get their way.
He also accused Nyikayaramba of having allegedly taken over security matters at the church thuggishly, where the top securocrat was now referred to as the security chief for Wimbo’s church, despite being still in full-time military service.
Gomo also told of how Nyikayaramba and Chihuri had allegedly and repeatedly clashed over the frail prophet, further claiming that during the meeting with Mugabe in July, the two had openly traded barbs in front of the president.
Nyikayaramba has previously told the Daily News that he would only speak on the matter once Mohadi and his team have presented their findings.