The MDC formation of Zimbabwean Industry Minister Welshman Ncube has condemned as an act of desecration the occupation of the Njelele shrine by a group of former freedom fighters reportedly for cleansing purposes.
The war veterans from Mashonaland province descended on the revered Matabeleland spiritual site on Wednesday despite earlier condemnations against a similar act by another team of former fighters a few months ago.
“We stand by the position taken by the traditional leadership in Matabeleland that this action clearly undermines their authority and is a cause for serious national conflict,” said MDC spokesman Nhlanhla Dube.
War veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda has also previously criticized his colleagues, describing them as “renegades” acting irresponsibly.
A few months ago, the Zanu PF politburo took up the issue after the party’s leadership from Matabeleland raised concerns.
Located in Matopo, just outside Bulawayo, Njelele is a sacred shrine where the Ndebele people have historically sought spiritual intervention in case of natural disasters such as drought and famine, hence the consecration.
Any effort to undermine the shrine is considered unforgivable in Matabeleland.
“We are shocked at the record level of disrespect,” Dube said. “We do not take this lightly, and we have since asked our members at senior government level to take this issue up to the relevant authorities.”