Spy boss is butt of jokes
Zimbabwe state security minister ridiculed after video of him seeking divine protection goes viral
ACABINET minister in charge of Zimbabwe’s much-feared secret police is being ridiculed after he was filmed in a ritual being “anointed” by controversial Malawian preacher “Prophet” Shepherd Bushiri who told him his enemies were consulting witchdoctors to kill him.
In a video that has gone viral, State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi is seen inside Bushiri’s church in Johannesburg, nodding his head and mumbling repeatedly: “Thank you, man of God, I receive.”
Bushiri then gives Mohadi a white handkerchief which he must use to wipe his face whenever he feels threatened, and tells the minister that no harm will befall him as he is protected by God.
Mohadi is in charge of President Robert Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Organisation which is accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings, intimidating the veteran leader’s political opponents and instilling a general climate of fear in the country.
Mugabe, a devout Catholic who regularly attends mass and always carries rosary beads in his suit pocket, was not amused by the minister’s shenanigans with the sleek-talking pastor.
The 92-year-old president, whose refusal to step down has sparked a vicious succession war in his ruling Zanu-PF, told a party meeting that he did not expect people of “sound mind” to believe such “bogus prophecies”.
The irony of a supposedly powerful minister begging for the protection of a self-styled prophet has not gone unnoticed by ordinary Zimbabweans.
The video has triggered howls of laughter, providing muchneeded comic relief in a country beset by economic hardship.
In the cut-throat world of Zanu-PF factionalism, Mohadi is associated with the Lacoste camp linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Malawian preacher told Mohadi he was poised for “promotion” – there is widespread speculation that, should Mnangagwa succeed Mugabe, Mohadi could be elevated to vicepresident.
“I am seeing you going higher and higher, nothing bad will happen to you. I am seeing promotion coming your way, I am seeing a crown on your head,” the preacher says in the video while Mohadi replies: “I receive.”
Commenting on Twitter, Setfree Mafukidze, a lawyer, said Mugabe would probably fire the minister.
“Mohadi will regret the day he ever flew to meet prophets. He will lose the ministry (of State Security) he holds. Mugabe doesn’t like such behaviour,” he said.
Last week, Twimbos – as the community of Zimbabweans on Twitter is known – roared with laughter when musing on what would happen should Mohadi retrieve the white handkerchief during a cabinet meeting.
Bishop Lazarus, a columnist with the state-controlled Sunday Mail, poked fun at Mohadi: “Did Minister Mohadi bring that white handkerchief to the last (Zanu-PF) politburo meeting? Did he take it to cabinet? In recent weeks, politburo and cabinet meetings are turning out to be like boxing rings and, surely, minister Mohadi would not want to take any chances,” he wrote.
Superstition runs deep in Zimbabwe, a country touted to be the most literate in Africa. In 2014, Mugabe fired vice-president Joice Mujuru, accusing her of consulting witchdoctors to harm him. He has never revealed the evidence.
In 2007, a 39-year-old self-styled traditional healer summoned cabinet ministers to a rocky outcrop north of Harare where she claimed she had found diesel oozing out of boulders.
The ministers fell for her prank and were filmed taking off their shoes and clapping their hands in awe as the charlatan staged her “diesel from the rocks” ritual.
Mohadi was among the duped ministers, together with Sydney Sekeramayi, a qualified medical doctor who is now minister of defence.