Shona singing 'War Vets' perform illegal rituals in Matopo
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A GROUP of about 568 Shona singing war veterans led by a man who identified himself as Cde Nehoreka, yesterday visited the 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 yesterday morning from Zambia and proceeded to the Matopos National Park where they conducted their 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 the News Crew arrived at the scene at Hazel Wood near Matopo Police Station in the afternoon, the group was all over the place with a convoy of their vehicles made up of three 75-seater buses, nine minibuses, four kombis and two pick-up trucks, parked by the roadside.
The barefooted members of the group were dressed in black with some putting on animal headgear and carrying traditional pots.
The group sang Shona traditional songs while some beat drums with others dancing.
Some were busy cooking food at the police station with police officers monitoring the situation closely.
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.
â€œWhat 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,â€ fumed the leader of the group.
â€œWe 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.
â€œThis 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.â€
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 â€œblockingâ€ them.
â€œWe 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,â€ he said.
â€œWe are not tribalists and we are not fighting anyone. All we want is to bring the spirits of our dead heroes together here.â€
At that time other group members surrounded the news crew, fuming that their activities were not being covered positively.
They castigated war veteransâ€™ 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.
The group said it was going to visit other countries such as Angola, Tanzania, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo where other freedom fighters died.
Chief Chiweshe of Chikomba in Mashonaland East, who was also part of the group, said: â€œThe independence we enjoy today is a result of sacrifices by our heroes and the spirit mediums. What we are doing here is part of the revolution. This country is not what we expected it to be and that is why we need to perform these rituals to solve some of the problems. We are not afraid of anyone.â€
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.
Chiefs Mathema and Masuku then confronted the police officers accusing them of failing to protect the interests of the province.
â€œWe have made it clear in our meetings as chiefs from this area that we do not want these people to dump their stones here. Let them take them to the National Heroes Acre. What is the purpose of these roadblocks when you cannot protect the interests of our own people,â€ fumed Chief Mathema of Gwanda.
â€œIt is clear that our own police force cannot protect us. Our resolutions are not taken seriously. These people have accomplished their mission and our area has been defiled. We were handling this issue and now what are we going to say to the people we lead. This is a sensitive area and abantu laba babuya begqoke ezimnyama besivalela izulu.â€
Chief Masuku also lashed out at the group. â€œBazolahlela idoti yabo lapha. We made it clear that we donâ€™t want them here. As chiefs, we did not know about this visit. The Governor is also not aware. Who did they communicate with and who allowed them to come here,â€ he said.
The group made headlines early this year when it visited Njelele Shrine and reportedly conducted unsanctioned rituals.
War veterans from Matabeleland and Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira have also condemned the group.
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