The Diocese of Harare reports that a mob stormed St Mary’s Anglican Church in Chitungwiza during worship and blocked the congregation from leaving the building for over three hours.
The Diocese of Harare reports that a mob of almost 1000 ZANU-PF supporters stormed St Mary’s Anglican Church in Chitungwiza on Sunday during worship and blocked the congregation from leaving the building for over three hours. On 26 April 2015 the mob, comprised mostly of members of the ruling government party’s youth wing entered the church and demanded the vicar turn over to them a nearby plot of land owned by the church. Clad in ZANU-PF shirts and hats, the mob was incited to storm the church by ZANU-PF central committee member Innocent Hamandishe, who told them the land had been stolen by white settlers and illegally given to the church. According the press account printed on the diocese’s Facebook page a spokesman for the party denied any knowledge of the land grab, however, one protester told NewsDay the party had directed them to seize the land. “We were directed by our leader, (Innocent) Hamandishe who is a Central Committee member. This land should be in our hands because the church gained it after killing our forefathers,” one of the youths said. The vicar of St Mary’s, the Rev. Norman Nyawo, said his congregation was traumatized by the assault. He told NewsDay he believed the party activists sought to “instill fear in the congregants. We started the church at 8am and the youths came at around 9am and we understand a few of them scaled the precast wall clad in their party regalia. We continued with the service, but everyone was disturbed. We finally had a meeting with their committee and they insisted that we should address the majority of the youths who were outside the gate.” A spokesman for the Rt. Rev. Chad Gandiya, Precious Shumba denounced the invasion. “Zanu PF, the ruling party, has an obligation to maintain peace in Zimbabwe, just as it is the responsibility of every Zimbabwean,” said Mr. Shumba, adding the church urged “the police to maintain law and order. Political parties should desist from pursuing populist positions that undermine the government’s efforts to unite” its citizens. The world was watching, he said. “ the citizens around the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.”