|Johanne Marange Apostolic sect congregants|
MUTARE–Members of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect congregants are gathering in thousands in Mafararikwa area under Chief Marange for a two week Passover ceremony despite church gatherings being banned during the level four Covid-19 lockdown, TellZim News has learnt.
The gathering, which commenced on July 3 is scheduled to run up to July 17, with thousands of congregants reportedly coming from across the country and some reported to have crossed borders to attend the ceremony.
When contacted for comment, Manicaland Police Spokesperson Inspector Luxson Chananda said he could not comment as he was not on the ground.
Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana recently tweeted on microblogging site Twitter that the apostolic sect are not allowed to gather, and when asked why they are not being arrested he said police did not see them.
“They are not allowed to gather. They are just behaving the same way as drunkards,” Mangwana tweeted
Some villagers from the Marange area expressed concern on why government is letting the gathering go through, saying it could turn into Covid-19 super spreader.
A Zimbabwe Diamonds Allied Minerals Workers (ZIDAWU) representative Cosmas Sunguro expressed disgruntlement about the gathering, saying that the gathering exposed the community to the deadly virus, but it seems as if the apostolic sect is above the law.
“We are not happy as it seems like the church is exempted by the law. Some congregants are even jumping boarders coming from hotspot countries, some of which have deadly variants of the virus, putting the lives of community members and those who work in Chiadzwa at risk.
“Marange is under threat and we are doomed as we foresee disaster unfolding after the Passover. If only one congregant amongst them is Covi-19 positive, there is high probability that the deadly virus will spread like veld fire,” Sunguro said.
He also said community members are sharing boreholes with the congregants, which further exposes the whole community to the virus.
Other villagers claimed that being vocal about the issue could possibly expose them to persecution, as the congregants allegedly contribute to ruling party votes during elections, more reason why government is casting a blind eye to the gathering.
The government has been criticized for its reluctance when it comes to cases inclined to the Johanne Marange sects failing to bring them to account on stories regarding early child marriages and abuse.
Some church members who spoke to TellZim News on condition of anonymity confirmed that they indeed are gathered in Marange for the big Passover event in their thousands.