FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who now leads the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), was yesterday barred from attending a scheduled inter-denominational women’s guild fellowship in Chinhoyi as suspected State security agents feared she could use the event for campaign purposes.
Just before the event kicked off, suspected Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives summoned heads of various churches gathered outside the Anglican Church’s St Paul’s Parish at Gadzema Township and ordered them to disperse or face unspecified punitive action.
The women, clad in church garb of their respective denominations, quickly left the scene oblivious of the reason for the prohibition order.
NewsDay witnessed the unfolding events as Mujuru, a Salvation Army member, and her entourage including ZimPF Mashonaland West chairperson Marian Chombo, the divorced wife of Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, also clad in church uniform, arriving around midday only to find the venue gates locked, while a few party members were still milling around to welcome her.
After realising the event had flopped, Mujuru then visited a fellow bereaved Salvationist in Chikonohono suburb to pay her condolences, before leaving the town in a huff.
ZimPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday described the incident as “undemocratic” and “an act of desperation by the Zanu PF regime”.
“It is most unfortunate that CIO operatives stopped the interdenominational meeting. We don’t expect this to happen in a democratic Zimbabwe. It violates the Constitution, the rights of the people as well as the churches. It is a violation of the Constitution to disrupt religious organisations from carrying out their functions,” Gumbo said.
ZimPF Chinhoyi constituency co-ordinator Tendai Musonza also deplored the move by the suspected State security agents.
“This is an act of desperation by Zanu PF which is using the CIO to intimidate innocent women who should be exercising their constitutional right to freedom of worship and assembly. However, this will strengthen our resolve to truly liberate this country from a failed government clutching at straws,” Musonza said.
A female congregant, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, said a known intelligence operative had threatened to harm them if they remained defiant. She said the spy agent also ordered them “not to entertain Mujuru and her Western puppets”.
The church guild is made up of women fellowships from mainline denominations that include Anglican, CCAP, Methodist, Salvation Army, Reformed Church in Zimbabwe and Christian Marching Church.
Mujuru’s party has had several of its meetings and campaign rallies violently disrupted by suspected Zanu PF supporters, who now view her as the main threat to President Robert Mugabe’s throne come the 2018 elections.
Mujuru was kicked out of the governing Zanu PF party at the end of 2014 after Mugabe accused her of plotting to dethrone and assassinate him.
She was booted out with several other top ruling party officials who reportedly sympathised with her, culminating in the formation of ZimPF.